U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals Affirms Deportation (Removal) of Former Salvadoran General José Guillermo Garcia

As mentioned in a prior post, in October 2009, the Department of Homeland Security charged that General Jose Guillermo Garcia, who had been residing in the U.S. since his retirement from the Salvadoran military, was removable (or deportable) from the U.S. under the Immigration and Nationality Act on the grounds that he had committed, ordered, incited, or otherwise participated in torture and extrajudicial killings in El Salvador.

The seven-day trial or hearing on these charges before an immigration judge was held in February 2013, and a year later the judge issued his 66-page decision in the case ordering that Garcia should be removed (or deported) from the U.S.This conclusion was based upon the judge’s findings that:

  • “As head of the armed forces and the most powerful person in El Salvador, [García] fostered, and allowed to thrive, an institutional atmosphere in which the Salvadoran Armed Forces preyed upon defenseless civilians under the guise of fighting a war against communist subversives. Instead of institutional changes that would decrease the incidents of killings and torture by the military, [García] failed to stamp out death squads within the security forces.  Likewise, despite contemporaneous evidence that members of the military had been involved in the [1980] assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, [1] a man who could have been an ally in bringing about change and peace in El Salvador, [García] failed to adequately investigate.”
  • García helped conceal the involvement of soldiers who killed four American churchwomen in 1980.[2]
  • He “knew or should have known” that army troops had slaughtered the villagers, including women and children, in the hamlet of El Mozote in 1981.[3]

On December 15, 2015, the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals upheld and finalized the removal order of Garcia in a decision that has not yet been made public. Whether he would exercise his right to appeal to a U.S. court of appeals was not immediately known.

This case has been conducted under the auspices of the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA), a California-based human rights non-governmental organization. Its Legal Advisor Carolyn Patty Blum applauded the BIA’s decision. She said: “Minister of Defense Jose Guillermo García was the most powerful man in El Salvador during a reign of state terror in which tens of thousands of innocent Salvadorans were slaughtered.  CJA applauds the Department of Homeland Security for its vigorous pursuit of García before the Immigration Court and the Board of Immigration Appeals and thanks our client Dr. Juan Romagoza, once again, for testifying in court proceedings against General García, as he had in the case of former Minister of Defense Eugenio Vides Casanova, deported earlier this year. We hope that García can be swiftly removed from the U.S. and face justice in El Salvador for the El Mozote massacre and the many other crimes committed under his command. It has been a long battle for justice for our clients and other victims who suffered horrendous repression during García’s rule in El Salvador.”


[1] This blog has published many posts about Oscar Romero.

[2] This blog has published many posts about the American Churchwomen.

[3] This blog has published many posts about El Mozote.






Published by


As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

3 thoughts on “U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals Affirms Deportation (Removal) of Former Salvadoran General José Guillermo Garcia”

  1. Comment: Former Salvadoran General Garcia Removed (Deported) from U.S.

    Former Salvadoran General Garcia did not exercise his right to appeal the Board of Immigration Appeals decision to a federal appellate court. As a result, on January 8, 2016, he was removed or deported from the U.S. to his home country of El Salvador.

    Ctr. Justice & Accountability, Former Salvadoran Minister of Defense General Garcia Removed from the United States (Jan. 8, 2016), http://www.cja.org/article.php?id=1666.

  2. Comment: Background to Removal of Former General Garcia

    On January 8, 2016, the Office of Public Affairs of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officially announced the removal (deportation) of General Garcia from the U.S.

    This Office also stated that this case was brought under the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which added provisions for the removal of aliens who have committed, ordered, incited or otherwise participated in acts of torture or extrajudicial killings.

    The Office put this case into broader perspective by pointing out that since fiscal year 2004, ICE had obtained deportation orders and physically removed more than 780 known or suspected human rights violators from the U.S.; that there are more than 125 active investigations into suspected human rights violators in the U.S. for possible removal; and that 193 human rights violators or war crime suspects had been prevented from entering the U.S.

    ICE Office of Public Affairs, ICE Removes Former El Salvador Minister of Defense (Jan. 8, 2016), https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/ice-removes-former-el-salvador-minister-defense.

Leave a Reply