Salvadoran ex-politician Roberto Carlos Silva Pereira denied asylum

Roberto Carlos Silva Pereira
Roberto Carlos Silva Pereira (Photo: El Diario de Hoy)

Former politician Roberto Carlos Silva Pereira, accused of corruption in El Salvador and murder in Guatemala, lost his appeal of his asylum case and may not be able to remain in the United States.

A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals found that Silva Pereira lied on his application for asylum and withholding of removal, did not qualify for protection under the Convention Against Torture, and that evidence presented during the proceedings indicated that he was possibly complicit in the murders in Guatemala of three Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party deputies who represented El Salvador in the Central American Parliament.

Silva Pereira, who was a professional soccer player before entering politics, fled El Salvador in 2007 after he was indicted in his home country for laundering more than $$10 million and bribing several mayors to obtain bids, was arrested months later in California by U.S. authorities and placed in deportation proceedings.

In an attempt to avoid deportation, Silva Pereira applied for asylum, claiming that he would be tortured if deported to Nicaragua. An immigration court and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denied his petition. Silva Pereira appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The Federal Court of Appeals reviewed the case, and agreed with the lower court's decision that Silva Pereira's argument was not credible. Taking into account the criminal proceedings he was subjected to in his home country and evidence of the murder charge against him, the Court determined that Silva Pereira is not eligible for asylum and therefore denied the appeal.

You can find the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit by clicking here. click here.

For a profile and summary of the charges against Silva Pereira by the Organized Crime & Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), click here. click here.

Next steps in the Silva Pereira case

Silva Pereira could request that all judges of the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals review the panel's decision. If the petition is denied, he could appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

However, the Supreme Court may refuse to review the case. If that happens, he would have no further legal recourse and Silva Pereira would be deported.

Finally, if the Nicaraguan government decides not to receive Silva Pereira and the United States attempts to deport him to El Salvador, Silva Pereira could file a motion to reopen the case before the BIA alleging that his life is in danger if he is deported to this country.

Grounds for denial of asylum

There are several reasons why U.S. authorities may deny asylum to an individual. The federal government carefully evaluates the applicant's documentation and background checks before making a decision on a case.

If they find evidence of the following in their assessment, they will reject the asylum application:

1. Has participated in the persecution of any person on account of race, religion, nationality, opinion, membership in a particular social or political group.

2. Has been convicted of a particularly serious crime such that the person is a danger to the security of the United States.

3. You have committed a non-political felony.

4. It is discovered that he was firmly based in another country before arriving in the United States.

A person who has engaged in terrorist activities or, within the last five years, has been the spouse or child of a person inadmissible on any of the above grounds will also be deemed inadmissible to the country and barred from receiving asylum.