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Alleged migrant attack on NYC police sparks political uproar

The British Broadcasting Corporation

An attack on police officers in New York City's Times Square, allegedly by a group of migrants, most of whom were released on bail, has sparked a US election-year political furore.

At least 12 suspects were allegedly involved in last weekend's attack. Six have been arrested.

Five of those were released on bail and the rest remain at large. One remains in jail.

Immigration is a hot issue ahead of the November 2024 US general election.

More than 6.3m migrants are recorded to have crossed into the US illegally since 2021, record highs that could affect the re-election chances of President Joe Biden, a Democrat.

The melee broke out on Saturday evening after three New York Police Department officers attempted to break up a disorderly group of men outside a migrant shelter in Midtown Manhattan.

When the officers tried to arrest one of the men, CCTV footage shows them being attacked by assailants. The officers were left with minor injuries.

As controversy over the Times Square fracas mounted in recent days, some Democrats have joined Republicans in calling for the suspects to be deported.

Kathy Hochul, New York's Democratic governor, said on Thursday authorities should "get them all and send them back".

"You don't touch our police officers - you don't touch anybody," she told reporters.

Assaulting a police officer is considered a federal crime in the US, and it can serve as grounds for deportation.

Nicole Malliotakis, a Republican congresswoman who represents Staten Island, a borough of New York City, said: "It is absolutely disgusting that people who are in this country, that are being housed by the taxpayers, would turn around and disrespect our laws and our law enforcement."

Republicans in New York are calling for the governor to send National Guard troops to the US borders with Canada and Mexico to help stem the flow of migrants.

The New York Police Department has also expressed anger over the incident.

Patrick Hendry, president of the Police Benevolent Association, the largest police union in New York, has questioned why the other suspects were released.

Yohenry Brito, 24, is the only migrant accused of involvement in the attack who remains in jail.

On Thursday, a judge ruled that Mr Brito would be held on $15,000 bail for second-degree assault and obstructing governmental administration.

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office said the other suspects were released as evidence is still being gathered.

Citing law enforcement sources, the New York Post reports that four of the accused have fled on a bus bound for California.