Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, former Minister of Defense and former Director of the National Guard of El Salvador was deported from the United States today, after an appeal was denied.
In a decision issued on March 11, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) dismissed the 77-year-old general's appeal and reaffirmed the decision of a judge who in August 2012 determined that Vides Casanova should be deported for having committed or participated in acts of torture and murder of thousands of civilians during the civil war in El Salvador between 1979 and 1992.
Vides Casanova was arrested in Florida on March 25. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents removed the Salvadoran general on a charter plane today, departing from Alexandria, Louisiana, to San Salvador, El Salvador.
The case for Vides Casanova's deportation was based on the Intelligence and Terrorism Prevention Reform Act, which prevents persons who committed serious human rights violations from remaining in the United States.
The court decision specifically recognizes two Salvadoran torture survivors who testified in the proceedings, and seven victims of extrajudicial executions, including four U.S. nuns killed in December 1980, as well as two Americans and their Salvadoran colleague killed in January 1981.
"This case makes clear that ICE is committed to ensuring that the United States does not become a safe haven for human rights violators. We will work to bring those responsible for these acts to justice and preserve the integrity of the immigration system for legitimate refugees," said Thomas Homan, the associate executive director of ICE's deportation operations unit.
Since 2004, ICE has arrested more than 296 individuals for committing human rights violations. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders and removed more than 740 individuals from the United States on suspicion of or for committing human rights violations.
In 2010, I reported on one such case, when ICE deported an Argentine ex-cop accused of human rights violations.
ICE is currently investigating 140 cases. They have also prevented 160 suspects of human rights violations or war crimes from entering the country.
If you have information about foreign nationals suspected of involvement in human rights abuses or war crimes, ICE urges you to report them by calling 1-866-347-2423. If you are outside the U.S., you can call 001-1802-872-6199.
Complaints can also be sent by e-mail to HRV.ICE@ice.dhs.gov.
Complaints can be made anonymously.