Feds Free Immigrant Couple After Detention at Fort Drum

This undated file photo provided by Make the Road New York shows Concepcion, left, and her husband Margarito Silva. Immigration authorities have freed the Mexican couple who were arrested when they tried to visit their pregnant daughter at an Army fort in upstate New York.  (Make the Road New York/Silva family photo via AP)
This undated file photo provided by Make the Road New York shows Concepcion, left, and her husband Margarito Silva. Immigration authorities have freed the Mexican couple who were arrested when they tried to visit their pregnant daughter at an Army fort in upstate New York. (Make the Road New York/Silva family photo via AP)

NEW YORK — Immigration authorities have freed a Mexican husband and wife who were arrested when they tried to make an Independence Day visit their pregnant daughter at an Army fort in upstate New York.

The couple's Brooklyn family paid a $20,000 bond to gain their release Monday night after 19 days in detention. They are now awaiting a hearing before an immigration judge.

Concepción and Margarito Silva, who have lived in the U.S. for more than 20 years without authorization, were arrested July 4 after trying to see their daughter and enlisted son-in-law at Fort Drum in New York.

"We just came out and we are on our way home, anxious to see my family, my grandchildren, and my children," Concepción Silva, 49, said in a video posted online by the activist group Make The Road New York. They are shown embracing their son.

The incident is similar to one involving another immigrant, Pablo Villavicencio, who was released from custody Tuesday evening upon a federal judge's orders.

Villavicencio, an Ecuadorian citizen, was delivering pizza to an Army fort in Brooklyn when he was detained on June 1. Villavicencio initially attracted attention at the base when he presented a New York City-issued identification card to the guards there, rather than a driver's license. After asking for additional identification, security guards ran a background check that revealed a warrant for his arrest for immigration law violations.

Concepción and Margarito Silva, 59, had also presented New York City's ID card when they visited Fort Drum. When guards asked for a different form of ID, they presented Mexican passports. Military police summoned Customs and Border Patrol agents, who detained the couple. They were held at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Batavia, New York.

Immigration activists and Democratic politicians have assailed the detentions as unnecessary and unfair.

Officials at the two forts said guards were simply following Defense Department guidelines, which require certain forms of identification and background checks on civilians trying to get access to military installations.

Customs and Border Protection said in a statement the Silvas acknowledged to border agents who interviewed them at Fort Drum that they were in the U.S. illegally.

The couple will hold a press conference Thursday at a Brooklyn church.

This article was written by Stephen R. Groves from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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