Dessima Williams, former Ambassador from Grenada to the Organization of American States (OAS) and a leading critic of United States Caribbean policy, was forcibly seized by immigration officials in October 1984 . She had just spoken at a Howard University forum on “Peace in the Americas.” She had eulogized Maurice Bishop, the slain leader of the New Jewel Movement and former Grenadian prime minister. Her arrest occurred exactly one year after the U.S-led invasion of Grenada.
CCR attorneys were called into this case just after Williams’ arrest. At first, immigration officials refused to say if she was in their custody. Then, placing a $3,000 bond on Williams, they charged her with being an illegal alien, deportable for remaining in the U.S. after the termination of her diplomatic status. That charge was later dropped. She was then charged with being an illegal alien, allegedly because her diplomatic visa had been invalid when she had entered the U.S. That charge was intended to stop Williams from qualifying for permanent resident status. Williams’ application for resident status was denied and that decision has been appealed to the immigration commissioner.
Williams’ deportation hearing was terminated by a judge who held that the Immigration Service had not proven her diplomatic status invalid when she entered the country.
Government motions to reopen are pending .
Michael Ratner, with CCR cooperating attorney Michael Maggio