In the Matter of Williams – International Human Rights and Solidarity – CCR Docket 1987-1988

In October 1984 Dessima Williams, former Ambassador from Grenada to the Organi­zation of American States, and a leading critic of United States Caribbean policy, was forcibly seized in Washington, D.C., by immigration officials. The arrest took place on the anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Grenada, just after Ms. Wil­liams had eulogized Maurice Bishop, the slain Grenadian prime minister, at a Howard University forum.

Williams was charged with being an illegal alien and placed on a $3,000 bond. Immigration officials claimed she should be deported  because  she  remained  in the U.S. after the termination of her diplomatic status. This charge was dropped. She was then charged, however, with being an illegal alien because she allegedly entered the U.S. with an invalid visa. The charge was designed to prevent Williams from qualifying as a permanent resident and, as a result, Williams’ application for such sta­tus was denied. An appeal has been filed.

A judge terminated Williams’ deporta­tion hearing because the Immigration Ser­vice had not proven the invalidity of her diplomatic status. The government appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals, the appeal has been argued, and we are awaiting decision.

Michael Ratner; with CCR cooperating attorney Michael Maggio