Gaea Rich and her boyfriend, David Quinn, an immigrant from Ireland, were on board her uncle’s yacht on Long Island Sound when federal officials boarded and began checking papers.
The trip, with more than 15 relatives and friends, was supposed to be the high point of a weekend family reunion. But a few hours into the cruise, after what began as an apparently routine stop by a marine patrol of local and federal law enforcement officials, two passengers — a Guatemalan caterer hired for the day and Ms. Rich’s boyfriend, David Quinn, an Irishman who had worked for years as a horse-carriage driver in Central Park — were taken away on a police boat by federal immigration officials. Both men were illegal immigrants; they now face deportation.
The yacht had been caught in a web of laws, little known outside the maritime community, that are meant to keep a tight leash on vessels that are registered in foreign countries or have traveled in international waters. And the boarding and interrogations on a pleasure craft came as quite a surprise to passengers.
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