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Apr 17, 2018 3:42 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Outpouring Of Support For East Hampton Sommelier Detained By ICE

Luis Marin-Castro, far right, with his sisters Stephanie and Melanie, father, Juan, and stepmother, Rocio.
Apr 17, 2018 4:30 PM

An East Hampton man’s arrest by federal immigration authorities this week has sparked an outpouring of support from the community.

The attorney for Luis Marin-Castro said this week that his client is not in danger of being deported in the near future but likely has a steep legal hill to climb if he is to be able to return to East Hampton from the federal detention center in New Mexico, where he is being held.

Mr. Marin-Castro, 31, a native of Ecuador, has lived in the United States since he was 11, and is married to a U.S. citizen; his sisters were both born in the United States, his parents are naturalized citizens, and he had begun the application process for a “green card.”

His detainment spurred bewilderment around East Hampton, where he attended high school and had earned recognition within the region’s restaurant industry for his knowledge of wine varietals and vintages.

More than 50 local residents, business owners and customers of the wine shop and restaurant where he worked parallel full-time jobs have written letters on Mr. Marin-Castro’s behalf to be sent to his immigration attorney in New Mexico. A GoFundMe page set up to help his family pay for legal fees had raised more than $48,000 as of Tuesday morning.

“Everybody I’ve talked to, immigration attorneys, are just, like ‘What? Why? He was in the process. He was on the other side,’” said Chimene Visser Macnaughton, the general manager at Wainscott Wine & Spirits, where Mr. Marin-Castro worked—with a state-issued work permit and tax ID number—and who has helped his family both track his movements among four different detention centers in six days and muster a legal defense. “He was going to get [fingerprinted] for his green card application on Friday. It seems bizarre to me.”

Mr. Marin-Castro had been arrested in May 2015 on aggravated DWI, a misdemeanor, an event that made headlines because his vehicle had crashed through a fence in the yard of East Hampton Town Justice Lisa Rana. According to a report in The East Hampton Star at the time, he drove away from the scene, “leaving behind a trail of debris,” and was arrested a short time later when a police officer spotted the vehicle traveling 77 in a 40-mph zone.

The Star reported that his blood-alcohol level was 0.23 percent, and he was charged with aggravated DWI, as well as several traffic infractions. He later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and was given probation.

But the conviction still removed the legal protections he had been afforded under the much-debated federal immigration policy known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, for which he qualified since he was brought to the United States illegally as a child.

“We had worried about this happening, sure, but I guess we didn’t think it actually would, since he was going through the process,” said his wife, Pia Bazzani, referring to his efforts to secure legal permanent residency.

Mr. Marin-Castro’s detention on Monday, April 9, and a wave of other detentions around the region in recent weeks, highlighted the risks that attorneys say undocumented immigrants need to be prepared to navigate under more aggressive enforcement policies now in force, especially if they have had almost any level of legal infractions even in their distant past.

At least three longtime local residents, two with U.S. citizens in their immediate family, have been abruptly detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency in recent weeks, according to people familiar with the cases. The detentions themselves are not out of the ordinary for longstanding immigration policies—and are not something new in the South Fork region—except for the relatively benign legal issues that seem to have spurred them in these cases.

“They are trying to pick up as many people as possible, which they were doing under Obama, too, but it’s picked up so that it used to be those with serious criminal stuff—right now, it’s any sort of criminal history. And then it will be the other people,” said Melinda Rubin, an immigration attorney in Hampton Bays. “Everybody needs to have a plan for what to do. If you have any sort of criminal history, they are going to find you.”

Another man, a Westhampton resident for more than 22 years with two American-born children, was detained earlier this month after reporting to an ICE office to check in as per a decade-old agreement that had allowed him to remain in the country despite a previous asylum request having been denied. A single DWI arrest from 2006, and the recent change in demeanor of ICE enforcement, appear to have been the deciding factor in his detention, said a family friend, who spoke about the situation on the condition that neither he nor the detained person be identified, for fear of affecting the ongoing legal proceedings.

“People do stuff wrong in their life all the time—there has to be a way back from oblivion. You can’t just get one strike,” the friend said. “I don’t know what the answer is, but I can say that the way they are doing it now is no good.”

Mr. Marin-Castro was helping unload a wine delivery in the parking lot of the Wainscott wine shop where he worked as a sommelier on the morning of April 9 when ICE agents approached him and placed him under arrest.

“One of them said, ‘You have no status in this country’—multiple times,” Ms. Macnaughton said.

Since then, Mr. Marin-Castro has been held at four different detention centers—on Long Island, in New Jersey, and two in New Mexico.

Those familiar with immigration enforcement said that such repeated movements, while unsettling for family members and the detainees, are fairly common as ICE officials shuffle detainees between centers that have space to house them for long periods. “It’s just a matter of where they have beds,” Ms. Rubin said.

Family members say that, while there was a nearly 36-hour period after Mr. Marin-Castro was moved from the New Jersey detention center when they had no idea where he was, he has generally been able to make phone calls from each of the detention centers, and that an ICE website has been updated, albeit slowly, with his detention information.

Mr. Marin-Castro called his wife and his mother, Rocio, from where he was initially held in Islip on the day he was arrested and then again from New Jersey, at 4 a.m. the next day, shortly before he was put on a plane for a then unknown destination.

“The first day, he was a little bit in shock when I talked to him, but we got a lawyer and seemed to be getting things worked out. And then at 4 a.m. he called and said they were moving him by plane, and he didn’t know where—that rattled him, it rattled me, it rattled all of us,” Ms. Bazzani said.

“Then, for two days, nobody knew where he was,” his mother added of a 34-hour period when the family had no information about his whereabouts. “I called the [Ecuadoran] embassy, and they asked for his ID number and … they found him.”

He was at a well-known detention center in New Mexico and his growing support team was able to hire an immigration attorney there and put money in a commissary account so that Mr. Marin-Castro could make phone calls.

The attorney, Andres Santiago, said on Monday that Mr. Marin-Castro’s intelligence and deep ties to East Hampton worked in his favor.

“When they apprehend you, they give you a lot of papers in English, and a lot of people can’t read them, and they waive the right to see a judge,” said Mr. Santiago, whose firm, Noble Vrapi, specializes in immigration law in New Mexico and Texas. “Luis is not that. He’s educated, was able to read through all those documents and figure out that he should request a judge and also an attorney. He was able to help himself out that way.”

Mr. Santiago said that Mr. Marin-Castro’s family background, marriage to a U.S. citizen and strong showing of support from others in the community will help him when his time before a judge, and a hearing on potential release on bond, come.

He also said that while his client’s detention is not a good situation, it may have opened a door to him in his quest for legal residency that he and Ms. Bazzani had not known was available in their efforts to get him a green card.

Since he is undocumented, even his marriage would require him to return to his “home” country and then apply to return to the United States legally, a process that can take months.

But Mr. Santiago said that he is reviewing a petition filed in 2001 on behalf of another family member’s immigration status, one that might be applicable to Mr. Marin-Castro as well.

“It’s possible,” the attorney said, “that all this has opened a different avenue to the immigration issue than they had considered before.”

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I remember a story not too long ago in which an illegal alien was not detained because "no one answered the phone at ICE" or something quite similar. Perhaps they felt slighted and picked this one up just to show their flag.
By Duckbornandraised (184), Eastport on Apr 17, 18 6:43 PM

You're in the United States illegally and commit crimes. Doesn't anyone see the absurdity in the argument that these individuals should not be deported?
By BillWillConn3 (180), Southampton on Apr 17, 18 8:38 PM
His parents are citizens, his sister is a citizen and his wife is a citizen. What part of "this is wrong" does not make sense to you?
By eagleeye (82), Sag Harbor on Apr 18, 18 3:49 PM
2 members liked this comment
AND he has committed no crimes.
By eagleeye (82), Sag Harbor on Apr 18, 18 3:50 PM
"What? Why?"

"Mr. Marin-Castro had been arrested in May 2015 on aggravated DWI, ....he drove away from the scene, “leaving behind a trail of debris,” and was arrested a short time later when a police officer spotted the vehicle traveling 77 in a 40-mph zone....

The Star reported that his blood-alcohol level was 0.23 percent, and he was charged with aggravated DWI, as well as several traffic infractions. He later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and was given ...more
By Po Boy (5299), Water Mill on Apr 17, 18 11:29 PM
1 member liked this comment
I guess he was an easier target for the Gestapo... I mean ICE.. than those who have committed violent crimes. He was convicted only of a misdemeanor. Balance that with his family ties, work history etc and the ICE bust was absurd. Certainly ICE could spend their time more productively. Now if you have a beef with lax DWI laws, that's different.
By harbor (415), East Hampton on Apr 18, 18 12:09 AM
The story was cut off, were people upset they lost a sommelier or that this guy was picked up for breaking the law?
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Apr 18, 18 7:21 AM
1 member liked this comment
People were upset that they abruptly lost someone they considered a positive member of their community because of a misdemeanor conviction from three years ago.

That's the law and them's the breaks...best of luck to Mr. Marin-Castro.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Apr 18, 18 7:29 AM
You prefer to say "misdemeanor" because saying you support an unlicensed, uninsured, illegal alien drunk driver who fled the scene of an accident reveals just how much contempt you have for this country and it's laws. Why do you think the United States doesn't have the right to deport illegal aliens? Do you believe the country was stolen from them, and therefore they have every right to be here? What lies at the heart of you treason and contempt for our sovereignty?
By MoronEliminator (215), Montauk on Apr 18, 18 9:03 AM
What part of "That's the law and them's the breaks" don't you understand?
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Apr 18, 18 9:10 AM
When you have 20 years to get your legal status taken care of dont wait until youre a drunk driver damaging property and driving away from the scene.

What would all of his supporters said if he drove away to hit and kill someone in the same car a mile down the road?
By Baymen87 (135), Lugoff, SC on Apr 18, 18 8:39 AM
1 member liked this comment
There is no path to citizenship for people who entered the country illegally.

People who entered legally and have their status expire can obtain relief. People who entered illegally have to leave and go through the process in their country of origin.

That's why DACA exists.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Apr 18, 18 9:12 AM
Sure there is a path, but you might not like the answer. Leave the country and apply.
By Mr. Snerdley (397), Southampton on Apr 24, 18 4:19 PM
I don't consider "leave and wait ten years in hopes of getting approved when you are eligible to reapply" a path to citizenship, but to each his own.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Apr 24, 18 4:26 PM
He has no green card and hes 31? No green card no taxes live under the radar? Breaking immigration laws charged with a felony it's a little disturbing. Then somebody comments it's not fair to print his name or being allowed to comment? Lol
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Apr 18, 18 8:47 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By MoronEliminator (215), Montauk on Apr 18, 18 9:06 AM
1 member liked this comment
He's working legally and paying taxes with a state-issued work permit and tax ID number.

It's in the article.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Apr 18, 18 9:13 AM
If he worked for a landscaping crew and wasn’t a sommelier would there be a go fund me page?
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Apr 18, 18 9:22 AM
1 member liked this comment
Great point. A landscaping job would likely not have allowed him to build the same network of people supporting him.

Landscapers spend a majority of the time working independently, and interact almost exclusively with their co-workers.

Thankfully, his hard work in the hospitality industry exposed him to people with more power than manual laborers.

It helps that he arrived at a young age and his parents' hard work allowed him to graduate from EHHS and SCCC.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Apr 18, 18 9:34 AM
He is supported because he's lived here for most of his life and has friends and family who appreciate him.

Has nothing to do with the type of work he does.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Apr 18, 18 11:35 AM
A quick review of the donors list from GoFundMe reveals that a vast majority of them possess Anglo-American last names.

I posit to you that he would never have made the same network of friends and supporters if he had worked for Marders instead.
Apr 18, 18 11:51 AM appended by Fore1gnBornHBgrown
I'm merely saying he has privilege that many undocumented folks don't, primarily as a function of the age at which he arrived, the education he was able to attain, and the position he was able to achieve.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Apr 18, 18 11:51 AM
Your abstraction is a cliche.
He's got the support because he grew up here, went to high school here, and works here. He's part of the community he was raised in, that's where the support comes from.

By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Apr 18, 18 4:45 PM
1 member liked this comment
Right, he's got the support of the community because of where he grew up, and where he went to high school, and where he works.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Apr 18, 18 4:55 PM
He was unloading a truck at the time of his arrest. Sounds like he is working two jobs. Now that's the dangerous type of man who deserves the attention of ICE. Those murderous street gang types will just have to wait. MAGA
By harbor (415), East Hampton on Apr 18, 18 9:51 AM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Win sky (58), Southampton on Apr 18, 18 10:49 AM
Think of it like the IRS. It may take years but eventually they come knocking. As for these DWI cases, you won’t hear sympathy from me. Vehicles are lethal weapons and the penalties for drunk driving should be at the felony level. No matter how much support there is, laws need to be enforced. You can’t pick and choose who has to go and who can stay based on popularity and connections.
By pigroast (100), East Quogue on Apr 18, 18 1:50 PM
"You can’t pick and choose who has to go and who can stay based on popularity and connections."

Except that's literally what happens. People who can demonstrate good character via witness testimony or other mitigating factors routinely receive better treatment than people who can't.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Apr 18, 18 1:59 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Tomjulie (43), Hampton Bays on Apr 18, 18 5:29 PM
It’s a tough case but where do you draw the line? Who draws the line? 5th generation here and there’s many laws I and many people I know don’t like but UNDERSTAND that with out laws what will happen. I’m not a Nazi or racist just a citizen who try’s to live right pay my taxes and obey the laws of our great country.
By Dee1961 (11), East Quogue on Apr 18, 18 5:33 PM
if he has been here since he was 11 years old he had plenty of time to become a citizen. free ride is over.
By guest (68), Bridgehampton on Apr 19, 18 1:42 PM
There is no path to citizenship for people who entered the country illegally.

People who entered legally and have their status expire can obtain relief. People who entered illegally have to leave and go through the process in their country of origin.

That's why DACA exists.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Apr 19, 18 1:46 PM
he still had plenty of time. what part of that don't you get. he could have started this process when he was 18 not 37.
By guest (68), Bridgehampton on Apr 19, 18 4:45 PM
You don't seem to understand that THERE ISN'T A PROCESS AVAILABLE TO HIM
Apr 19, 18 5:09 PM appended by Fore1gnBornHBgrown
I'm shouting for the people in the back.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Apr 19, 18 5:09 PM
He blew his opportunity to use the DACA PROCESS when he got wasted , crashed and ran.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Apr 19, 18 5:14 PM
1 member liked this comment
No borders, no country. If this guy wasn't know as the guy who pours you your $120.00 cabernet at dinner....there IS no story. Ask every single person who feels bad that Luis won't be there to pour their wine this question: Would you have been willing to live near him? Guarantee the answer is no. The liberal elites in this country are all the same. Caring to a point...right up until they say NIMBY!!!
By DiseaseDiocese (668), Riverhead on Apr 22, 18 11:25 PM
Regarding the "willing to live near him" question, how many letters of support and donations to his Gofundme do you think came from neighbors?

I'd wager more than 0, which would mean at least some of his supporters wouldn't mind.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Apr 23, 18 12:15 AM
The set of likely consequences for a crime varies depending on many factors including race, age, immigration status, wealth, etc. A drunken local boy might have been able to bargain down to a DWAI, Mr. Marin-Castro sure is getting hit hard for a DWI.
By Aeshtron (431), Southampton on Apr 24, 18 3:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
"Getting it hard for DWI," Did you know you can't enter Canada as a US citizen if you have a DUI, unless you apply, and that doesn't guarantee it will be approved?

A violation of DACA is very specific and an applicant may not have convictions for any felony, significant misdemeanor or multiple misdemeanors. This means that a single conviction for misdemeanor DUI under DACA is a problem for Mr. Castro.

The days of "bargaining" is long gone. a the consequences of a DUI under ...more
By Mr. Snerdley (397), Southampton on Apr 24, 18 4:15 PM
Why isn’t his boss under arrest? Why isn’t illegal to employ someone who is here illegally? If the employers were held responsible, illegal immigration would have stopped decades ago.
By btdt (449), water mill on Apr 26, 18 11:29 AM
He's working legally and paying taxes with a state-issued work permit and tax ID number.

It's in the article.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Apr 26, 18 11:35 AM