Deportation on Hold After Two Hearings

Judge allows bond for Montauk carpenter
T.E. McMorrow

A Montauk man facing deportation after having been picked up by Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents on Jan. 27 was released from custody following a March 23 hearing at the Department of Justice’s Varick Street Immigration Court in Manhattan.

Wilson Fabian Guanga, 39, an Ecuadorian who has lived in Montauk for 23 years and had been held by ICE in a Bergen County, N.J., facility, was released after the $13,000 bond set by Judge Thomas Mulligan was posted by his family. His immigration attorney, Donald Madeo of Youman, Madeo & Fasano, a Patchogue firm, said Monday that the outcome of the hearing could prove an important step toward Mr. Guanga’s obtaining a green card and permanent residency. “A lot of personal questions were asked,” he said.

 Mr. Madeo reported that Josh Lee, an assistant chief counsel for ICE, had argued against a bond, saying Mr. Guanga was not fit to remain in the United States due to two arrests over the past 18 months. One of the arrests was on a 2015 charge of driving while intoxicated. Though the alcohol reading was low, and the charge was eventually adjudicated as a violation, the arrest concerned ICE, and, apparently, Judge Mulligan. “There are 15,000 deaths a year as a result of drunk driving,” the judge said during Mr. Guanga’s first hearing, on March 7.

The second arrest occurred in East Hampton in January. A woman identified in court papers as a Ms. Sanchez filed a complaint with East Hampton Town police that led to Mr. Guanga being charged with two criminal misdemeanors, obstruction of breathing and endangering the welfare of a child.

Mr. Madeo argued that the case, which came up in East Hampton Town Justice Court on Feb. 16, was going to be dismissed. He produced a transcript of the proceeding, in which attorneys agreed that Ms. Sanchez had recanted her complaint against Mr. Guanga and that the complaint was tainted because it had been translated from Spanish to English by her ex-husband. The prosecution agreed to adjourn the case for a year, after which the charge would be dismissed, Mr. Madeo said.

Judge Mulligan told Mr. Madeo that he had two weeks to provide the court with proof of the circumstances behind both arrests, as well as an abstract from the Department of Motor Vehicles and the minutes of the justice court case.

The legal burden in immigration court is on the defendant to prove that an order of deportation should be cancelled. According to Mr. Madeo, Mr. Guanga, who has been employed as a carpenter, will have to prove he is of good moral character, been in the country over 10 years, and that his children would be seriously harmed by his deportation.

Mr. Guanga’s wife of many years, known by friends as Cathy (her middle name is Catalina) attended both deportation hearings. Pregnant with their third child, she said on March 7 that she was expecting in mid-April. “We’ve been living 17 years in the same place,” she said, referring to their rental, on East Lake Drive in Montauk. 

Mr. Madeo also produced proof that Mr. Guanga had performed community service after the arrest on the drunken driving charge, and said he had a clean driving record.

Now that Mr. Guanga has returned home, the request for cancellation of the deportation order will be considered in New York City Immigration Court at Federal Plaza before a different judge. 

Mr. Guanga was picked up by ICE officers seven days after Donald J. Trump was sworn in as president. In Mr. Madeo’s opinion, “This was definitely on account of the change in administrations.” Two days before ICE detained Mr. Guanga, President Trump signed an executive order requiring the agency to “detain individuals apprehended on suspicion of violating federal or state law, including federal immigration law, pending further proceedings regarding those violations.”

In a previous article in The Star, it was incorrectly stated that Mr. Guanga had been brought from detention in New Jersey to East Hampton Town Justice Court for the Feb. 16 adjudication. That was not the case. The article also confused the authorization required from employers for a temporary work permit.