Foreign Affairs Ministry and Guyana Embassy did everything possible to assist Isaacs within ambit of US laws and bilateral agreement between Guyana and US

Dear Editor,

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs takes this opportunity to set the record straight on the issue in which Mr Mark Isaacs, a deportee from the United States, accused Guyanese diplomatic officials based both here and in the United States of failing to help him in his battle with US authorities to avoid deportation.

The article appeared in the Stabroek News of August 22, 2013 (‘Deported man spent 35 years in US –served in military’) and dealt with several aspects of Mr Isaacs’s sojourn in the United States including his service in the United States Army, his encounters with the US judicial system, the US criminal justice system, and the US Immigration, Customs and Enforcement Agency (ICE).

The article makes for interesting reading in so far as Mr Isaacs has attempted to level allegations of one sort or the other at these institutions/ agencies as well, in his defence. Those institutions/ agencies are in a better position to address those allegations.

While our diplomatic and consular representatives attend to the interests and needs of Guyana and Guyanese abroad, their work is premised on, and guided by international conventions/ protocols, and more particularly in cases such as Mr Isaacs, by bilateral agreements between Guyana and the United States. It should also be noted that Mr Isaacs was living in the United States of America, and since he committed a crime there, was subject to the laws of that country.

Mr Isaacs initially made contact with the Embassy of Guyana in Washington, DC, USA and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in April 2013 requesting assistance in accessing documents (trial exhibits) relating to his conviction, since he was having difficulty getting them. Both the Embassy of Guyana in Washington DC and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made efforts to secure these documents for Mr Isaacs through the Clerk of Court of the Northern District of Illinois and the Embassy of The United States of America in Georgetown respectively. As a matter of fact, this was brought to Mr Isaacs’ attention in writing, along with advice that he should pursue the matter through the court system, and the need for him to have a “stay of removal” in place in order to prevent his deportation at the time.

In July 2013 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was informed by the Embassy of the United States of America in Georgetown that Mr Isaacs, having committed an aggravated felony in the United States of America, and after five separate appeals all of which were denied, is subject to a final order of removal. It was also stated that the courts found that the documents which Mr Isaacs was seeking will not call into question the conviction of an aggravated felony against him. Taking all the above into consideration, a travel document was issued for his deportation to Guyana. Further, Mr Isaacs confessed at the time of the issuance of the travel document, to not having filed for a stay of removal. This cleared the way for his deportation.

With regard to the issue of his concern for an upcoming court date in the United States and his inability to be present, Mr Isaacs may, or may not be aware, that under the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) a person does not necessarily have to be physically present in court. In cases where that is needed, a judge can give an order to have the person returned to the United States.

In closing, no Embassy official had any conversation with Mr Isaacs in relation to “That America was putting pressure on them to charter a plane…” as was stated in the article. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Head Office and the Embassy of Guyana in Washington, USA did everything possible to assist Mr Isaacs within the ambit of the bilateral agreement between the United States and Guyana on deportation, and the laws of the United States of America.

Yours faithfully,
Elisabeth Harper
Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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