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Terrorists of Another Brand By: Bill West
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, January 19, 2004

If you visited Disney World in Orlando sometime in the late 1990s and had occasion to ride a water taxi in one of the several theme parks, your boat driver just might have been a friendly middle-aged fellow with a nametag bearing “Jean-Claude.”  The tag may have even shown he was from Haiti.  Perhaps Jean-Claude would have answered a few of your questions about the park, or even patted your young son or daughter on the shoulder as your family disembarked from the vessel.  Disney officials, after all, have publicly stated that Jean-Claude Duperval was a fine employee until he left in 2002.  It’s likely Duperval’s former employer did not provide a reference letter to Disney, since the former employer was Haitian dictator Raoul Cedras.

Major General Jean-Claude Duperval was once the Deputy Commander of the Haitian Army under Raoul Cedras and helped Cedras and his band of thugs run that impoverished island country after they overthrew the duly elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1991.  U.S. President Bill Clinton, in 1994, sent 20,000 American troops to Haiti in what became a “bloodless invasion” to restore Aristide and expel Cedras and his crew of despots and restore some semblance of order and democracy.  The success of that effort is subject to much debate to this day; however, at least the unchecked violence visited upon innocent Haitians by what passed for a government under Cedras and his regime, aided by paramilitaries in an allied private group called the FRAPH, came to an end.

But, what became of Cedras and his minions?  After all, America had invaded and restored the duly elected free leader.  Well, unlike the fate of Saddam Hussein and his henchmen, Cedras and crew, probably in return for not resisting those 20,000 U.S. troops, were simply allowed to pack up and leave.  Cedras went to Panama, that other bastion of freedom and democracy the U.S. had invaded and liberated not too many years before.  Now, this is where things get quite interesting.  And, these matters demonstrate at once the good, the bad and the ugly of U.S. immigration policy dealing with such people, and, to a larger extent the immigration system as a whole. 

A good number of those Cedras underlings, including Duperval, former Army Chief of Staff Colonel Carl Dorelien, and former Army Chief of Military Intelligence Lt. Colonel Herbert Valmond, all found their way to the United States of America.  Did they surreptitiously sneak into the U.S. in the dead of night and use their military skills to make amphibious landings on Florida beaches?  No, they flew into the U.S. and were admitted on visitor visas the State Department had issued to them and their family members.  Incredible as it seems, the very thugs the U.S. military had been sent to oust were welcomed at a U.S. airport by Immigration and Customs Inspectors!  It has never been satisfactorily explained, at least publicly, if those visas were not cancelled due to some bureaucratic oversight or due to some quid-pro-quo understanding the Clinton administration made with the Cedras regime.  And, apart from several head Haitian honchos, scores of lower-level Haitian military and FRAPH operatives who had engaged in human rights atrocities also managed to find their way to the U.S., both “legally” and illegally, in the months and years after Aristide returned to power. 

The Miami District Office of the INS, in 2000, initiated an aggressive Human Rights Persecutor apprehension project.  The initiative, the only one of its kind in the INS and, in fact, the Government, took a handful of senior Special Agents and seasoned INS attorneys from the District Counsel’s Office and they focused on cases identified as aliens who were suspected of having committed human rights abuses or war crimes in their home countries.  The agents and attorneys quickly teamed up with certain Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) involved in such work, as well as conducting liaison with U.S. intelligence agencies and the military, and reviewed a variety of international reports, including UN and various media reports.  In short order, a target population was identified and the pursuit was on.  In less than three years, before the INS was abolished and absorbed into the Department of Homeland Security, the Miami project had netted 46 arrests of such violators, deporting over half, criminally prosecuting a number of them for felony violations and detaining most of the others pending appeals.  In spite of repeated Miami Office prodding, even with the support of the INS Headquarters National Security Unit, INS senior policy managers inexplicably refused to take this highly successful program nationwide.

The cases of Duperval, Dorelien and Valmond were all worked under the Miami program and became known locally as “The Haitian Three.”  All three eventually were identified as having overstayed their tourist visas and were placed under deportation proceedings, with Dorelien and Valmond being ordered deported by Immigration Judges and the Judges issuing orders, based upon the evidence developed, finding them to have engaged in persecution activities.  Dorelien was taken into custody, but not until after he attempted to flee the arresting agents by diving out the back window of his house and into the arms of the agents.  His military skills did him little good at that point.  Valmond, who had ironically become a minister at a Haitian church in the Tampa area, lost his appeal at the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), was found by the Court to be a persecutor, and was also taken into custody.  Both Dorelien and Valmond were subsequently deported and are facing further criminal proceedings in Haiti for their alleged involvement in what was known as the Raboteau massacre where as many as 26 civilians were killed.  Interestingly, Dorelien, while living in Florida before his arrest, won half of a $3 million prize in the Florida lottery, clearly doing him little good in the Haitian National Prison. 

Duperval fared better than his former colleagues, at least at the Immigration Judge level.  He managed to convince Miami Immigration Judge Denise Slavin that, notwithstanding his nefarious past, he was eligible for relief from deportation under U.S. law.  Judge Slavin issued such an order in October 2000 and Duperval was allowed to remain in the United States, a temporarily free man, driving boats at Disney World.  Fortunately, the aggressive Miami INS District Counsel’s Office, under the able command of then District Counsel Dan Vara, appealed Judge Slavin’s decision to the BIA.  The BIA, on January 7, 2004, upheld the Government’s appeal, found Duperval to have engaged in persecutor activities, and ordered him deported.  Swiftly, agents from the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), moved in and arrested Duperval at his Orlando area home and he is in custody awaiting further removal proceedings, where in Haiti he will also face further justice related to his involvement in the Raboteau massacre.  “The Haitian Three” caper will hopefully soon be fully closed. 

Such is immigration justice.  These three cases - Duperval, Dorelien and Valmond, were deportation cases against three men who simply overstayed their tourist visas many years ago.  And, they are men who the U.S. Government, and indeed most of the civilized world, recognizes as having engaged in very serious misdeeds in their homeland before coming to the United States.  Yet, it has taken all these many years for what should have been a simple deportation process to take place against arguably notable bad guys.  The point is there is no simple deportation process.  Complex criminal cases are disposed of faster and more efficiently.  With all due respect to the legal profession, it would seem that there must be a better way, but no one seems particularly interested in fixing a much broken system. 

At least in regards to alien war criminals and persecutors, Congress has been making some attempts.  There have been two bills floating in recent sessions that would make human rights abuses a specific deportation violation, something that, amazingly, is not part of the Immigration and Nationality Act at present.  One of the bills would also shift investigative jurisdiction to the Department of Justice Office of Special Investigations, the renowned Federal Nazi hunters.  Unfortunately, neither bill has made much progress in any of the Congressional sessions.

At least the ICE has dared to go where INS refused to tread nationally.  Operation No Safe Haven seeks to root out alien human rights violators nationwide and pursue them for immigration criminal and removal violations.  ICE Headquarters has stated that No Safe Haven is a priority program, yet results from around the country are mixed.  Arrests in south Florida continue at a steady pace; however, the program in other locations where suspect persecutor populations are known to be high, such as Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago and the Washington, DC area have yet to produce significant numbers.  To be fair, the project is relatively new at the national level and many of these cases can be time consuming to develop, so ICE should be given a reasonable period to move forward.  That said, these kinds of cases deserve proper attention, with senior investigators and attorneys assigned full time in key locations.  With respected NGO studies showing as many as 1500 persecutors and war criminals residing in the U.S., there would appear to be no shortage of potential targets.

And, with the war on terror, that number could increase.  Given the U.S. and coalition control over Iraqi government records, presumably the personnel files of Saddam’s military, intelligence and security services are now in our possession.  Those organizations that were notorious for committing torture, political murder, rape, imprisonment and all manner of atrocities in Iraq no longer exist, but the U.S. Government now should know the persons who were members and collaborators of those organizations.  How many of those operatives, in years past, may have found their way to the United States and settled here as “refugees,” lying about their former membership in Saddam’s terror apparatus?  Matching those Iraqi records against U.S. immigration records, we can find out, and when such inquiries discover a torturer among us, the full weight of American justice, no matter how long it may take, should be brought against those culprits.

Bill West retired as the Chief of the National Security Section for the INS in Miami, Florida and is now a consultant for the Investigative Project, a Washington DC-based counterterrorism research institute.

Bill West is a retired INS/ICE Supervisory Special Agent who ran organized crime and national security investigations. He is now a counter-terrorism consultant and freelance writer.

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