Saturday, February 18, 2017

Border Patrol arrests 9 on Grand Island (WGRZ-NY)

Border Patrol arrests 9 on Grand Island
 WGRZ 11:14 PM. EST February 15, 2017

GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. -- Nine people have been taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Grand Island.

CBP tells 2 On Your Side that one of those immigrants was a convicted sex offender from Mexico, who had already been deported once.

Multiple witnesses confirmed Border Patrol agents were on scene at a Rite Aid on Grand Island Boulevard on Wednesday, but the Border Patrol would not confirm the extent of that activity or how it relates to the nine arrests.

Lisarenee Guagliano was inside the Rite Aid store in Grand Island when Border Patrol agents appeared to take one man into custody. In a phone interview with 2 On Your Side, Guagliano said the man rushed into the bathroom after appearing to spot the Border Patrol agents outside the store window.

"Next thing I knew, there were five Border Patrol (agents) in there, and they walk toward the men's room-- because everyone pointed out that's where he was," Guagliano said. "There wasn't a struggle or anything. They just kind of walked him out after that."

The Border Patrol could not confirm where the other people were taken into custody by federal agents.

The nine arrests made in Grand Island come just two days after Border Patrol agents took 23 people into custody at a convenience store in Hamburg. It's unclear if the situation in Hamburg has any direct connection to the situation in Grand Island.

Matthew Kolken, an attorney who specializes in immigration law, said it'd be unwise to jump to the conclusion that the Trump administration played a role in the Border Patrol's activity this week in Western New York.

"I believe that what we're seeing now may have been in the planning stages for months," Kolken said, "and now, we're just seeing them executed."

The Trump administration, however, is likely to take a more hard-line approach.

"This is the biggest change in policy from President Obama to President Trump-- they are no longer favorably exercising prosecutorial discretion on behalf of individuals who are not a priority for deportation," Kolken said. "Pretty much anyone in this country now in violation of U.S. immigration law, is subject to being taken into custody."

The one individual with a previous deportation and criminal conviction could be subject to criminal prosecution, but the other people apprehended by Border Patrol this week will likely face immigration court in Western New York. They will have an opportunity for due process in those proceedings, and in the end, some could even become eligible for green cards.

But the Border Patrol's spokesperson said the agency is continuing to process the people arrested in Grand Island on Wednesday.

"Depending on the facts and circumstances, that'll determine whether or not they'll be required to remain in custody during the duration of their immigration court battles," Kolken said.

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