ln the Matter of Williams – International Human Rights and Solidarity – CCR Docket 1989-1990

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 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 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 stat us was denied.

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

Michael Ratner, with CCR cooperating attorney Michael Maggio