In the Matter of Williams – International Human Rights and Solidarity – CCR Docket 1988-1989

In October 1984 Dessima Williams, former Ambassador from Grenada to the Organization of American States and a leading critic of U.S. 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 be­ cause she remained in the U.S. after the termination of her diplomatic status. This charge was dropped. She was then accused, however, of being an illegal alien because she allegedly entered the U.S. with an invalid visa. The new charge was designed to prevent Williams from qualifying as a permanent resident and, as a result her application for such status was denied.

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 was argued.

Michael Ratner, with CCR cooperating attorney Michael Maggio.