U.S. State Department Attorney Edward Betancourt Admits Denying My U.S. citizen Client Due Process For 8 Years
This post is a follow up to two recent articles, “State Department Whistleblower Reveals Shocking Policy of Depriving Individuals of Their Birthright to U.S. Citizenship” and “Customs and Border Protection Tortures Individuals to Deprive Them of Their Birthright to U.S. Citizenship”
My client’s passport U.S. passport was unlawfully confiscated from her in 2005 by State Department officials in the U.S. embassy in El Salvador. The State Department did not revoke the passport until March of 2012 and did not send my client notice of the revocation until May of 2013.
The State Department’s unlawful acts forced my client to be in exile for 8 years without any opportunity to challenge, or even see, the evidence that spurred the unlawful confiscation of her U.S. passport in 2005.
Put differently, you or I would have more due process rights to challenge a speeding ticket than my client did to challenge the revocation of her U.S. citizenship.
My client finally made it back to the United States in March of 2013, where she applied for admission with her Texas birth certificate, her social security card, and her New York State identification card. She was detained for a total of 15 days until attorneys in ICE’s Office of Chief Counsel determined that they did not have enough evidence to prove my client was not a U.S. citizen.
When I received the revocation notice in May of 2013, the State Department informed my client that she was entitled to hearing to challenge the determination. My client requested a hearing and the State Department informed us in a letter dated May 21, 2013 that her request was forwarded for a hearing to the Office of Passport Legal Affairs, which is in charge of administering hearings on passport revocations and denials.
On July 8, 2013, we received a letter from Edward Betancourt, the Director of the Office of Legal Affairs for Overseas Citizens Services, stating, without any explanation whatsoever, that “upon further review we now clarify that Ms. Alfaro is not entitled to a hearing under federal regulations.” Because I knew that the State Department was yet again acting unlawfully, I called Mr. Betancourt to let him know how unhappy I was.
Below is a conversation I had recently with Edward Betancourt. Click on the link at the bottom to listen to the actual recording.
Here is a partial transcript, followed by the actual recording:
Edward Betancourt: “we wanted to be certain we were right this time…because obviously we did not want to make a mistake twice.”
Me: If the mistake was made this time, she would have just had a hearing.
ME: And if I had the hearing I would have proven she was a U.S. citizen.
ME: Given the history of this case, there is no justification for how long it took to make a decision in this case in the first place.
Me: Somebody should have to explain
EB: Well, you know, I told you on the phone the first time we had hundreds of hundreds of cases produced by the western hemisphere. I worked here 35 years. We never had more than 10 and all of a sudden we had hundreds and hundreds and hundreds.
Me: If you do not have the resources to adjudicate these cases, you should not be erring on the side of saying they are not U.S. citizens. It’s kind of like saying, “oh we don’t have the money, so we are going to wait on you being exiled…
EB: The fact that things were not done right in the past, well here we are today.
ME: She has had no due process for 8 years.
EB: I wouldn’t say that.
ME: I mean, where is the due process?
EB (Frustrated) Be honest with me, when you and I spoke the first time I didn’t realize the tangled history of this case.
ME: It’s tangled, but that’s because it all comes down to what happened in 1998.
EB: Again, I don’t have the file in front of me (said that in first conversation, shows has no idea about facts of the case)
EB: I don’t know how else to respond to you other than obviously telling you the truth and that it should not have happened and say we are sorry but that does not change the legal reality of where this case is now and that’s where I think we should put our energy.