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article imageBorder patrol accused of breaking up wedding party

By Martin Laine     Jun 10, 2010 in Politics
A Vermont couple say border patrol agents disrupted their wedding reception, checking IDs and questioning guests about their immigration status. The agency says nothing like that happened.
Speaking at a news conference yesterday in Burlington, Vermont, Thierno and Danielle Diallo said they were celebrating their wedding reception at a city park in St. Albans, Vt., when several cars with about 10 agents arrived.
Danielle, 31, is a native of Winooski, Vt., and Thierno, 28, was born in Guinea. He is a player and coach for the Vermont Voltage, a semi-pro soccer team, and has permanent residency status.
“We’re not really sure why they showed up,” said Danielle. “They just showed up and proceeded to ask for papers. People had flown in from Africa, and they wanted to know where everybody was coming from.”
They say the questioning lasted for a half-hour or 45 minutes. They say it had the effect of ruining the party.
Mark Henry, operations officer for that sector of the U.S. Border Patrol, has a very different version of the story. He told the Burlington Free Press that only two or three agents responded to a call they had received, and that no one was asked for proof of citizenship.
“We received a call that there was a large group of people, or multiple suspicious people, on the street in St. Albans,” he said. “Our agents responded to that report. We did not ask for proof of citizenship of anyone.”
Asked why the call was not referred to the local police, Henry said agents respond to all sorts of calls.
“They kind of do their own thing,” said St. Albans police Lt. Ron Hoague. “Sometime they contact us, sometimes they don’t.”
The incident – whatever the circumstances – is the latest of several in Vermont where stepped-up border security measures have prompted complaints from residents of high-handed actions by the border patrol.
More about Border patrol, Vermont, Diello
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