In the Matter of Williams – International Law – CCR Docket 1986-1987

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. Wil­ liams had eulogized Maurice Bishop, the slain Grenadian prime minister, at a Howard University forum.

Williams was charged with being an ille­ gal 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 diplomaticstatus. 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. Government motions to reopen and reconsider were denied. The government has appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Michael Ratner, with CCR cooperating attorney Michael Maggio