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ICE uses Interpol red alerts to deport thousands of migrants despite legal doubts


These notices from the international agency do not constitute a police accusation, and experts also fear that authoritarian governments will abuse the system to pursue their political objectives.

Hundreds of thousands of people are deported by Customs and Border Protection (ICE) each year, whether for staying after their visas expire, entering the country illegally, or being convicted of crimes.

But, in addition, it relies on the so-called red alerts issued by the international agency Interpol on people wanted for alleged crimes in their countries of origin to justify some expulsions, despite the fact that these notices do not presuppose guilt in any crime. 

The Los Angeles Times newspaper reports as an example the case of Hugo Gómez, a Guatemalan migrant detained at an ICE center on the outskirts of Los Angeles.

Gomez, 61, works as a gardener and is an evangelical pastor, like his wife, with whom he has raised three daughters.

He immigrated to the United States in 1987 and the only crime for which he has been convicted

 is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in 1989.

However, in Guatemala the Government alleges that, in 1984, when Gómez was part of the National Police during the civil conflict, he was involved in the kidnapping of one activist and in the illegal detention of another.

In 2009, Guatemala sent a request to different police agencies around the world to locate him and Interpol issued one of its red alerts.

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ICE also accuses Gómez of lying to obtain his

green card

, which is an automatic reason for deportation.

The agency did not respond to multiple requests for comment from the newspaper.

Gómez, his family and friends assure that he is innocent and have launched a campaign to prove it and prevent his deportation.

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Gomez's arrest is one of thousands in the last decade justified by these red flags.

Between 2009 and 2016, ICE deported nearly

1,800 people wanted for alleged crimes in their home countries,

according to the agency.

Multiple legal experts, both liberal and conservative, assure that it is an overreach of the Government, which uses this tactic to deport immigrants under a legally questionable pretext.

Interpol, which primarily serves as a registry of information for its 194 member countries, is not a law enforcement agency, and nations

are not required to act on red flags because they are not arrest warrants.

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Interpol itself clarifies this on its website: "A red alert is a request to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition. It is issued by the General Secretariat at the request of a member country or an international court based on a valid national arrest warrant.

It is not an international arrest warrant. "

Some experts also point to the risk that some authoritarian countries issue arrest warrants under political pretexts, as occurs for example in Russia under the regime of Vladimir Putin or in Nicaragua under Daniel Ortega, and that these orders later reach the alert radar of the Interpol.

However, "ICE's strategic partnership with Interpol

has grown significantly in recent years,"

ICE says on its website, adding that they share "experience, technology and resources" for it.

"ICE staff assigned to Interpol's Washington, DC office work daily hand in hand with officers, attorneys, and analysts from other components of the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the Department of State," the agency adds. federal.

Interpol members in Guatemala City, August 2020 Luis Echeverria / REUTERS

"The reason I find this process so objectionable is that it

subcontracts the judgment of who is a criminal to a foreign government,"

Ted Bromund, a researcher at the conservative organization Heritage Foundation


told the aforementioned newspaper.

"I have no problem with deporting criminals from the United States," he added, "but that assumes that the other nation is actually identifying murderers as murderers and not political dissidents as murderers."

Rachael Billington, a spokeswoman for Interpol, told the newspaper that a red alert is issued only if it complies with the Interpol constitution.

A panel reviews that all meet legal requirements, he

said, and is currently in the process of reviewing tens of thousands that were authorized before 2016.

Red alerts can be appealed through Interpol's Archives Control Commission, which is independent.

But that process

can take months,

and time is short for migrants fighting deportation.

With information from the Los Angeles Times and


Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2021-09-17

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