Magazine article The Christian Century

Shackling a Samaritan

Magazine article The Christian Century

Shackling a Samaritan

Article excerpt

The case of Frank Almonte shows why the 1996 immigration law should be changed if not repealed.

Frank Almonte is a good man, an uptight man, a man of peace. He gives of himself. He has, for example, built hospitals. He recently raised $4 million for medical supplies, food and clothing for hurricane victims. A legal immigrant from the Dominican Republic, he has lived in Corona, Queens, for 22 years. A television and radio evangelist as well as a Pentecostal minister, Almonte is respected, even revered, far beyond his 1,000-member congregation at Adonai Christian Center in Corona.

But these days this widely esteemed pastor would be justified in feeling he is being tested like Job. Returning on January 29 from an evangelistic mission in his homeland, Almonte was arrested on drug charges by immigration officials at Kennedy International Airport, denied bail, shackled--ankles as well as hands--and taken by bus to a federal penitentiary in Pennsylvania (there being no vacancy at the New York facility). He was confined in a cold cell there for ten days. It took a lot of legal maneuvering--plus affidavits signed by prominent clergy--to gain his release prior to his next heating. If convicted he faces up to seven years in prison, after which he would probably be deported.

What drugs was Almonte carrying? Not heroin, not cocaine, not a narcotic of any kind. In plain view, right on top in his luggage, were three small bottles of appetite-enhancing tablets intended for his underweight 12-year-old son, Joel. Cost: the equivalent of $7.00. Though the pills had been prescribed by a physician in Santo Domingo, no prescription was really necessary; such pills are sold over the counter in the Dominican Republic. And since such pills are not only legal but commonly used in the DR, Almonte had no inkling that in the States they would be considered a controlled substance because they contain steroid properties and have not been approved by the Federal Drug Administration. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.