NOTE: POLITICAL OFFENDER OR SERIOUS CRIMINAL? CHALLENGING THE INTERPRETATION OF "SERIOUS, NONPOLITICAL CRIMES" IN INS V. AGUIRRE-AGUIRRE Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 2000 Georgetown Immigration Law Journal
Georgetown Immigration Law Journal

NOTE: POLITICAL OFFENDER OR SERIOUS CRIMINAL? CHALLENGING THE INTERPRETATION OF "SERIOUS, NONPOLITICAL CRIMES" IN INS V. AGUIRRE-AGUIRRE

Winter, 2000

14 Geo. Immigr. L.J. 545

Author

NADIA YAKOOB *

Excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION

In December 1992, Juan Anibal Aguirre-Aguirre, a young student activist from Guatemala, left for the United States to seek asylum. He fled Guatemala because he feared persecution for his involvement with political groups that burned buses in protest of increased student fares and the lack of government investigations into the disappearances of student activists. Such activities foreshadowed a risky future in a country where the government often targets universities and student groups.

During his asylum proceedings, the Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA") found that Aguirre-Aguirre was barred from both asylum and withholding of deportation because he had committed serious nonpolitical crimes, such as arson, assault, battery, and vandalism, in Guatemala prior to arriving in the United States. 1 Under both international and domestic refugee laws, serious criminals are not entitled to refugee protection. In INS v. Aguirre-Aguirre, the Supreme Court upheld the BIA's decision, deferring to the BIA's interpretation of the serious, nonpolitical crimes exception under principles of administrative law. 2

Aguirre-Aguirre conceded that he had burned buses and often used force to push the passengers off, but he stressed that his activities were in protest of exorbitant increases in student bus fares and government inaction regarding the mysterious deaths of student activists. When the group with which he was affiliated succeeded in capturing government attention, it continued using the same tactics to maintain the government's focus on its issues. Aguirre-Aguirre argued that his crimes were politically motivated, and thus that he was not ...
 
 
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