Local News

Local Attorney Finds Grant Immigration Probe 'Puzzling'

Posted October 12, 2005 8:01 a.m. EDT

— A Raleigh immigration attorney said Wednesday that he wonders why an N.C. State men's basketball player with no criminal record and a promising future would be a target of the U.S. Immigration & Custom Enforcement, especially since there are thousands of other illegal immigrants in the state.

"I have to speculate that his celebrity and prominence made the difference in tipping the scale toward enforcement," said attorney Jack Pinnix.

While he is not involved in the deportation case against 20-year-old basketball forward Gavin Grant, Pinnix said ICE's decision to go after Grant made him somewhat surprised.

"They certainly don't have the resources to remove everyone who's come to the U.S. and hasn't maintained their status," Pinnix said. "So, there is a matter of discretion often and that's why this case is puzzling."

On his college application, Gavin Grant said he was not a U.S. citizen but said that he was working toward it. A year ago, the Jamaican native and Bronx resident worked with Miami attorneys to try to defer his deportation, but his request was denied.

A recent tip led local federal agents to interview Grant last week. While officials would not talk about the tip, they said it had nothing to do with Grant's N.C. State application.

In a written statement, an official with ICE said the agency is "always going to prioritize public safety and national security risk, but anybody in the country illegally faces deportation."

While Grant could be forced to go back to Jamaica, a judge could also grant him relief and allow him to stay in the U.S. It could be months, however, before a hearing is set because of a deportation backlog.

Meanwhile, Grant is still working out with the men's basketball team and going to classes. NCAA officials said that as long as Grant is a student in good standing at N.C. State, he would be eligible to play basketball.

Herb Sendek, N.C. State's head men's basketball coach, could not say much about the case because of privacy issues, but he did speak on Grant's character.

"Those of us who know Gavin recognize that he's a wonderful young man," said Herb Sendek, N.C. State's men's basketball head coach. "He's a true gentleman who's working hard to pursue his degree at N.C. State."