A local cook, who entered the country illegally more than a decade ago has been detained by immigration officials, prompting outcry from both Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple and Mayor Kathy Sheehan.
It’s lunchtime at the Capital City Rescue Mission, but the kitchen is incomplete.
“He’s a guy that always wants to help people; he’s one of my main guys,” said Executive Chef Max Ansong.
Kimino Ngoran was a fixture here, serving up meals with a smile to people down on their luck. He was once one of them—fleeing the Ivory Coast to seek asylum in the U.S.
“They were trying to conscript him in to a very bloody civil war where I think some family members had been murdered,” said the rescue mission’s Executive Director Perry Jones.
Jones got involved when Ngoran was denied asylum in 2011. Jones agreed to be his sponsor and hire him so immigration would grant Ngoran a stay of removal giving him employment status.
For six years, immigration granted that stay until last week when agents took him into custody.
According to a post by Sheriff Apple, immigration officials arrested Ngoran at their office and sent him to the Albany County Jail. He was later transferred to a federal facility in Batavia, New York.
The Facebook post went on to say: “Enough is enough! I understand there needs to be immigration reform. I lived it for most of 2018. But when immigration calls an immigrant to their office….who cooks 800 meals a day at the city mission, who has been mentored by one of the most caring men I’ve ever met, takes his $150 check, and locks him up, ships him to my jail then to Batavia, enough is enough. This is not what we do in this country. This man doesn’t deserve this. I understand some may need to go back, but we are treating this as a one size fits all. This is immoral and just dam wrong.”
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan showed support for Apple’s post tweeting, “I echo Sheriff Craig Apple’s outrage, our country needs to do better.”
Ngoran’s pro bono laywer, Fred Korkosz, says he’s not sure why the change of heart.
Ngoran is married to a U.S. citizen, but his immigrant visa petition has been pending for more than two years, which Korkosz calls an inordinately long time.