Gurguri makes bond

Tue, 03/20/2018 - 1:45pm

An immigration judge ruled today that a local man arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents can be returned to Block Island and seek a path to U.S. citizenship. 

Meriton Gurguri, a 29 year old Kosovo native and manager at the Block Island Grocery store, came to the Island in 2011 and overstayed his J-1 Visa. He was arrested by ICE agents as a non-criminal on Feb. 27. Gurguri had been detained at a Bristol County Detention Facility in Dartmouth, Mass., since that time. According to sources, Gurguri may be back on Block island as early as this week.

“I’m so relieved right now,” Gurguri told The Block Island Times. “The judge was very nice,” he said of Immigration Judge Mario Sturla. Gurguri said his $2,500 surety bond is in the process of being paid, and he should be released in the next few days. He also said that the support of the Block Island has “lifted his heart.”

State Rep. Blake Filippi, who sent a letter to Immigration Court Administrator Robert Halpin in support of Gurguri, said, “When the chips are down and one of us needs help, Block Island comes together to answer the call. I have no doubt our community’s efforts helped bring Meriton home. Let’s give thanks for a judicial system that seeks justice despite the political winds.” 

“That's great news,” said New Shoreham First Warden Ken Lacoste. “Hope the opportunity presents itself for a permanent solution to his situation.”

The New Shoreham Town Council voted unanimously at a March 7 meeting to draft a resolution that would allow Gurguri to be released on bond, and returned to the Island. Gurgrui’s plight generated about $13,000 in donations from the Block Island community to cover his legal expenses, hundreds of signatures on a petition, and over 40 letters of support.