Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘American warrant’

28th April 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has issued a new memorandum regarding the revocation of United States Passports by the United States Department of State. In order to better shed light upon this issue it may be best to quote directly from the interim USCIS memorandum itself:

DOS has authority to issue and revoke passports. Specifically, 22 U.S. Code (U.S.C.) 211a authorizes the Secretary of State and his or her designee (the U.S. Passport Office of the Bureau of Consular Affairs) to grant, issue, and verify passports. Through Executive Order No. 11295, 31 Fed. Reg. 10603, the President designated and empowered the Secretary of State with the authority to designate and prescribe the rules governing the granting, issuing, and verifying of passports.
DOS revokes passports in accordance with Title 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) sections 51.60-62, and 51.65. There are also several statutes under which passports may be revoked and that are incorporated into DOS’s regulations, including: 8 U.S.C. 1504 (the passport was illegally, fraudulently or erroneously obtained); 42 U.S.C. 652(k) (for non-payment of child support); 22 U.S.C. 2714 (for certain drug traffickers); 22 U.S.C. 2671(d)(3) (non-repayment of repatriation loan); and 22 U.S.C. 212a (adds authority to revoke passports of persons convicted of sex tourism). The regulations also require DOS to send written notification of the revocation of a passport to the bearer. See 22 CFR 51.65(a).

Clearly, as can be ascertained from the above citation, the Department of State is authorized to issue and revoke United States Passports. This can be of acute concern to those abroad with an outstanding warrant in the United States as Department of State officials routinely rescind passports upon finding that an American Citizen has a pending criminal warrant, fugitive warrant, or even a warrant in connection to domestic matters such as failure to pay American child support. Once a passport is revoked, an American may be issued a travel letter for the specific purpose of returning to the United States of America. For those unfamiliar with so-called travel letters it may be best to quote directly from the Foreign Affairs Manual:

Posts should issue travel letters only in rare or unusual circumstances described in this Appendix, where it is impossible to issue a passport. These circumstances include: (1) Law enforcement related travel letters in situations other than extradition. Such travel letters must be expressly authorized by CA/PPT/L/LA, which works with the U.S. law enforcement authority on matters related to revocation of the passport of the subject of an outstanding federal warrant. (See 7 FAM 1380 Passport Denial, Revocation, Restriction, Limitation and Surrender.)

Clearly, the Department of State only issues travel letters under rare circumstances, but US Passport revocation and travel letter issuance can occur especially in the context of Federal warrants. That said, the authority reserved to the Department of State regarding passport issuance and revocation would appear not to extend to the Department of Homeland Security‘s USCIS. To quote further from the USCIS memo cited above:

USCIS lacks the authority to revoke or confiscate a U.S. Passport. If reasons to doubt the validity of a passport come to the attention of USCIS, USCIS will not seize the passport, instruct the bearer to return the passport to DOS, or otherwise notify the bearer that there may be issues with the passport…In recent months, USCIS employees have on occasion informed customers that their U.S. Passports were invalid and should be surrendered to DOS. Upon review of certain cases, DOS determined that the passports were, in fact, valid and recognized in accordance with DOS policies and statutes. DOS has requested that USCIS direct any concerns regarding the validity of passports to DOS and not to the bearer of the passport.

It would seem from the quotation above as though the Department of State is in the best position to make a decision regarding the validity of a US Passport as such matters are within that Department’s bailiwick. As noted in the the US visa process, some matters pertaining to travel and immigration are bifurcated between the USCIS and the Department of State. Based upon the above memorandum and the Foreign Affairs Manual it would appear that Passport issues remain almost entirely within the Department of State’s mandate.

For related information please see: Arrest Warrant or Federal Warrant.

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16th November 2010

In a previous posting on this blog, this author noted that Russian National Viktor Bout, suspected international arms dealer and supposedly one of the individuals who was an inspiration for Nicholas Cage’s character in the film Lord of War, was facing extradition proceedings which could ultimately lead to charges being brought in a Court of competent jurisdiction in the United States of America. Furthermore, extradition of Mr. Bout means that he would be transferred to the care of American authorities in the lead up to his trial. To quote directly from the recently released Associated Press article on this topic:

The Thai government extradited accused Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout to the United States on Tuesday to face terrorism charges, rejecting heavy pressure from Moscow for him to be freed.

The Cabinet approved Bout’s extradition Tuesday after a long legal battle, and Police Col. Supisarn Bhakdinarinath said the 43-year-old Russian was put aboard a plane in Bangkok at about 1:30 p.m. (0630 GMT; 1:30 a.m. EST) in the custody of eight U.S. officials.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told reporters after the Cabinet meeting that the government sided with an earlier appeals court decision that Bout could be extradited.

The issue of Mr. Bout’s extradition has been a complex and politically charged one in recent months as Thai Courts have struggled with the case in an effort to come up with a fair ruling. Exacerbating the tension for Thai authorities are the authorities in Moscow and Washington DC: each vying to see Mr. Bout sent to either Russia or the USA, respectively. To quote further from the aforementioned AP article:

A Thai court in August of 2009 originally rejected Washington’s request for Bout’s extradition on terrorism-related charges. After that ruling was reversed by an appeals court in August this year, the U.S. moved to get him out quickly, sending a special plane to stand by.

However, just ahead of the appeals court ruling, the United States forwarded new money-laundering and wire fraud charges to Thailand in an attempt to keep Bout detained if the court ordered his release. But the move backfired by requiring a hearing on the new charges. Those were dismissed in early October.

Russia says Bout is an innocent businessman and wants him in Moscow. Experts say Bout has knowledge of Russia’s military and intelligence operations and that Moscow does not want him going on trial in the United States.

The outcome of this case remains to be seen as Mr. Bout will likely face trial in America. Therefore any mention of possible outcomes in the United States Court system would be an exercise in pure speculation. However, one could surmise that after the expense of substantial time and resources on the part of the United States government to see Mr. Bout extradited to the USA it is safe to assume that a prosecution of Mr. Bout will be conducted with alacrity.

Extradition of high profile international criminals is not common, but when it does occur, the USA tends to pursue prosecution rather quickly. An interesting analogy to Mr. Bout’s situation is the American apprehension of Manuel Noriega, the Panamanian quasi-dictator captured and prosecuted in the early 1990′s for crimes related to drug trafficking and racketeering. Although Mr. Bout was not a South American dictator, this author believes that the cases are similar as they show how the United States government can be very determined when trying to apprehend individuals engaged in the international trade of contraband.

For related information please see: criminal warrant.

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15th September 2010

The American Department of State (DOS) is responsible for a great number of government functions performed in the United States of America and abroad. On this blog, we routinely post information about issues connected to DOS in an effort to disseminate useful information to Americans abroad or foreign nationals seeking information about US Immigration. It recently came to this author’s attention that the American State Department has released a new edition of a publication designed to provide insight to American law enforcement officials regarding protocols which must be adhered to in situations involving foreign Consular officials. To quote a press release from the Department of State and distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

The Department of State is pleased to announce its publication of the third edition of “The Consular Notification and Access Manual.” Produced by the Bureau of Consular Affairs and the Office of the Legal Adviser, the manual instructs federal, state and local law enforcement and other officials on actions they must take to comply with U.S. obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and other international agreements. It includes details on steps U.S. authorities must take when a foreign national in the United States is arrested or detained, dies, is involved in the wreck of a foreign vessel, or requires the appointment of a guardian.

The manual, which is available free of charge, supports the Department’s efforts to ensure that the United States meets its international obligations to notify foreign consular officials about their citizens in the United States. To order the manual or to access the online version, please visit the consular notification and access section of our website at www.travel.state.gov/consularnotification.

The Vienna Convention is an important pillar of American law enforcement policy regarding foreign Missions in the United States. The rules stipulated in the Vienna Convention generally apply to personnel of US Missions abroad. Therefore, reciprocal adherence to Vienna Convention protocols creates a more stable international community for all concerned.

These issues should not be confused with those related to Americans who have been arrested abroad. As a rule, the Vienna Convention does not apply to Americans abroad who have no government affiliation. Thus, an American arrested abroad is unlikely to be treated in the same manner as American government representatives accredited to a given country.

Americans arrested overseas or those who find that they are the subject of an American warrant are well advised to contact a licensed American lawyer who can provide insight into the methods for resolving a pending criminal matter.

For related information please see: US Warrant or Extradition.

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18th July 2010

In a recent article, promulgated by The Nation Newspaper and distributed by the website ThaiVisa.com, it was announced that an American Citizen was arrested on money laundering charges on the Thai island of Koh Samui. To quote directly from ThaiVisa.com:

An American wanted by US authorities for alleged money laundering was charged on Samui Island yesterday.

Immigration police arrested Ronald Paul Shade, 39, who was allegedly fled California after international police and San Bernardino court issued arrest warrants for him. He was detained to face charges of money laundering and stealing about US$14 million.

Police said the American Embassy contacted them to trace Shade. They later found him “hiding” in Samui, which led to the arrest.

The suspect, who allegedly confessed, will be extradited to the US, according to a bilateral extradition treaty.

In the relatively recent past, occurrences such as this were relatively rare. This was likely due to the fact that the Thai Immigration database was not “tied in” to the American criminal databases and watchlists. Recently, it was announced that the Thai Immigration database would begin sharing information with their American counterparts, and vice versa. It is important to note that the United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand share an Extradition Treaty. Therefore, an American Citizen with a pending criminal warrant, such as the suspect in the aforementioned news report, could be detained in Thailand and extradited back to the United States to face trial for the alleged offenses.

In the United States, there are various types of warrants and writs which could be issued in an attempt to compel an American Citizen, foreign national, or lawful permanent resident, to appear before a court of competent jurisdiction. For example, a bench warrant is generally issued by a Court when a defendant has failed to appear in connection with a pending civil or criminal matter. In some cases, those with a traffic citation, who fail to properly deal with the matter, are subjected to a bench warrant until such time as the underlying charge is satisfactorily resolved.

Under certain circumstances, a court in one jurisdiction will issue a fugitive warrant for the arrest of an individual in connection with an offense committed in another jurisdiction. Although this is somewhat uncommon, such matters are highly complex and those who are the subject of such a warrant should seek competent legal advice as soon as possible in an effort to deal with the matter in accordance with all relevant laws.

It would appear that Royal Thai Immigration authorities are taking a hard line against foreigners who are suspects in legal proceedings abroad. It remain to be seen whether this policy will continue to be rigorously enforced by Thai authorities, but one could easily infer that enforcement will continue and possibly become more zealous.

For further informational reading please see: warrant or Warrant For My Arrest.

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29th April 2010

In a recent case that was heard and adjudicated by the United States Supreme Court, the issue of Immigrants’ right to counsel was taken up and the outcome of the case resulted in a landmark opinion and a watershed moment for the rights of Immigrants in the United States of America. The case is known as Padilla v. Kentucky, the following quote comes from an email from the Law Corporation of Alice M. Yardum-Hunter:

The case involved a 40-year permanent resident, Jose Padilla, whose criminal defense lawyer advised him not to worry about the immigration consequences of pleading guilty to a crime. That advice was not only wrong but the guilty plea subjected Mr. Padilla to mandatory deportation from the United States. The Kentucky Supreme Court held that Mr. Padilla had no right to withdraw his plea when he learned of the deportation consequence. The Supreme Court reversed that decision and rejected the federal government’s position – also adopted by several other courts – that a noncitizen is protected only from “affirmative misadvice” and not from a lawyer’s failure to provide any advice about the immigration consequences of a plea. The Court held that Mr. Padilla’s counsel was constitutionally deficient and affirmed that immigrants should not be held accountable when they rely on incorrect advice from their lawyers or where counsel fails to provide any immigration advice at all.

The implications of this case are important for attorneys practicing in the United States as they will now be required to provide advice about the legal consequences of certain activities from an Immigration perspective.

This is also important for those American Immigration Lawyers practicing outside of the United States. For example, if an individual with lawful permanent residence in the United States is abroad and learns of a pending criminal warrant or fugitive warrant, then that individual may choose to retain the advice of a US lawyer outside of the United States. In that case, the lawyer would be required, under the provisions of this recently adjudicated decision, to provide advice regarding the immigration consequences of a guilty plea in a pending criminal matter.

This example illustrates one more reason why it is so important to retain the advice of an individual who is licensed to practice law in the USA. This is particularly important in a country such as Thailand where the existence of “visa companies,” “visa agents,” and unlicensed and non-accredited so-called “lawyers” and “attorneys” operate with little oversight. Many are unaware of the implications of a criminal pleading in an immigration context and this ignorance can lead to unforeseen difficulties for US Immigrants overseas.

For information about United States Immigration from Thailand please see: K1 Visa Thailand.

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