Interpol conjures up images of a worldwide police tracking down “bad guys” on the run from home country authorities. But Interpol is not a law enforcement agency: it does not issue warrants and does not have the authority to make arrests. While the overwhelming majority of Interpol’s information-sharing capacity is dedicated to tracking down true “bad guys”, many home country governments abuse it. They manipulate Interpol into doing their dirty work, making bogus allegations to locate dissidents, political activists, and whistleblowers. As a result, Interpol issues Red Notices based on bare allegations made by a government – for example, fraud – not evidence, with a view to extraditing that person back to that country.
Yet consular, Customs and Border Protection, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials erroneously use the Red Notice as shorthand to deny visas, detain individuals at the border, and arrest them inside the United States. It is easier for these officials to take the Red Notice at face value and act at the behest of other governments than to actually analyze and investigate the veracity of the allegations. This could be extremely time-consuming – time that US government officials may not have. In the context of a visa application, it is easier to apply a malleable 214(b) decision than to take the time to explore the factual accuracy of a red flag. In the context of a visa revocation, it is easier to revoke the validity of a visa and “figure things out” later after a new visa application is submitted.
This should not deter wronged victims from challenging Red Notices; just the opposite. Such Notices can be challenged directly with Interpol. While the process can be time consuming, sometimes they can be successful, leading to the withdrawal of a Red Notice. The withdrawal of the Red Notice can then be used to challenge a visa denial or revocation. Even if one were not to challenge the Red Notice with Interpol, a victim should present exculpatory evidence to US immigration authorities to rebut allegations contained in a Red Notice. This happens quite often in asylum proceedings in the US, when a victim presents evidence of ill-motivated persecution in his or her home country.
Besides Red Notices, a person can encounter visa problems because he or she has a politically-motivated conviction for a crime of moral turpitude. Perhaps the person was the victim of a “kangaroo court” process – in which the conviction was preordained and all notions of due process were disregarded. Perhaps the person fell afoul of powerful authorities by blowing the whistle on widescale theft, and these authorities retaliated by prosecuting the whistleblower on bogus extortion, bribery, or fraud allegations. While a conviction for a crime of moral turpitude serves as the basis for a permanent bar from the United States, there is an exception. Section 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (2A) anticipates such abuse of home country laws, allowing for a “purely political offense” exception, i.e., if a person can show that a conviction is “obviously based on fabricated charges or predicated upon repressive measures against racial, religious or political minorities,” then a person cannot be deemed to be inadmissible. While relatively rare, consular and Department of State officials can and do look behind a conviction if there is evidence that it was politically motivated. In such a case, they can overturn the 2A finding of inadmissibility.
Notwithstanding the issuance of a Red Notice or a politically-motivated judicial process, there are remedies. Contact us to discuss your options.