47-year-old Albanian immigrant Sokol Vokshi, said "I didn't know what hit me," when ICE ripped him from his job at the Golden Reef Diner in Rockville Centre and deported him. Vokshi's lawyer, Altin Nanaj told the New York Post that his client was slapped in shackles, thrown in jail for two days and then deported to Durres Albania without a chance to speak to his wife or kids.
Nanaj said the deportation was highly unusual because Vokshi had been issued a Social Security number, given annual work permits, paid his taxes every year, has no criminal record, and has worked as a waiter at a Long Island diner for 24 years. The lawyer added, "This is a model family man who worked day and night."
Friends and customers of Vokshi have started a GoFundMe page that has raised nearly $12,000 to help pay for expenses the family will face. Jimmy Trahanas, the owner of the Golden Reef Diner in Rockville Centre, said he didn't know what to make of it when Vokshi suddenly didn't show up for work. "The customers were upset," he said. "Everybody was asking for him."
The GoFundMe page describes the Albanian immigrant like this, "Sokol came to the US 24 years ago and has worked at the Golden Reef diner for those 24 years. He married a woman from Albania, and they have two children, ages 12 and 14."
"Sokol owns his house in Elmont, NY," it continues, "and has been trying to become an American for years."
Vokshi told the court he was a young political asylum seeker when he made it to New York in 1993 and was given a Social Security number.
Vokshi's deportation dilemma began in 1997 when immigration judges turned down his request for asylum. ICE finally caught up to him last April. As soon as Vokshi entered the ICE office his lawyer was asked to leave and he was cuffed, processed, and back in Albania 2 days later.
Photo Credit: Getty Images