JANUARY 20, 2010
The government of Guatemala has publicly accused U.S. immigration officials of violating basic diplomatic protocols for deporting three of its nationals living illegally in south Florida.
In an official public protest, the impoverished Central American country claims that the U.S. government improperly disrupted its dealings with Guatemalan citizens living in Jupiter Florida when it arrested and deported the illegal aliens. At issue is how U.S. immigration officials confirmed that the Guatemalans were in the country illegally.
The information was obtained from an internationally known express shipping company that notified immigration authorities about suspicious packages mailed from Guatemala. The country regularly aids and abets nationals living abroad by providing them with passports that can be utilized as an official form of identification.
In the Florida case, the Guatemalans were met by immigration officials when they went to pick up their precious packages containing the passports. The shipping company followed established security protocol by notifying authorities after suspecting the passports were fraudulent. Two of the illegal immigrants have been deported and one, who has a U.S.-born anchor baby, is in the midst of a complicated deportation proceeding.
Guatemalan diplomats in the U.S. claim that seizing and examining legitimate passports without notifying them improperly disrupted their dealings with Guatemalan citizens living in this country. This constitutes a violation of basic diplomatic protocols, according to the top Guatemalan official stationed in the Sunshine State.
The incident stems from a November workshop that Guatemalan consular officials held in Jupiter to help undocumented citizens obtain birth certificates, passports and other documents that can help make life easier in the U.S. Dozens of Guatemalans attended the free seminar and signed up for new or renewed passports that would later be mailed to them.
Dozens of packages could not be delivered to the addresses listed and the shipping company opened them to determine if there were better address leads inside. Fearing that the passports could be part of a fraud scheme, supervisors at the shipping firm contacted federal authorities. A local news report claims that the incident has become a flashpoint in U.S.-Guatemala diplomacy due to the manner in which federal authorities received the evidence.
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