Woman kidnapped by Salvadoran guerrillas must leave the U.S. for providing ‘support’ to terrorists, court rules

A woman held in detention by U.S. immigration. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

A woman who was kidnapped by guerrillas in El Salvador in 1990 cannot stay in the United States because she provided “material support” to terrorists, an immigration court ruled last week.

As CNN reports, court documents state that the unnamed woman was required to cook and clean for the guerrillas “under threat of death.” She was also forced to watch her husband, who was a sergeant in the Salvadoran army, dig his own grave before he was murdered.

But the main appellate body of the immigration courts ruled in a 2-1 opinion that the services the woman, identified in court documents as ACM, was compelled to provide constitute “material support” for a terrorist organization. Board of Immigration Appeals Judge Roger Pauley explained in the opinion that U.S. law does not provide exemptions for support given “under duress.”

The woman came to the United States illegally in 2001 and was subsequently granted Temporary Protection Status, which is given to citizens of certain nations when “conditions in the country … temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately,” according to the website of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

ACM then left the United States in 2004, and when she tried to return, the government launched deportation proceedings against her.

In the court’s opinion, the one dissenting board member, Judge Linda Wendtland, wrote that her fellow judge’s interpretation of the law is “strained.” She noted that some statutes list examples of “material support” as offering things like safe houses and funds to terrorists.

“I cannot conclude that the menial and incidental tasks that the respondent performed — as a slave — for Salvadoran guerrillas, including cooking, cleaning, and washing clothes, are of ‘the same class’ as the enumerated forms of assistance set forth in the statute,” she wrote.

ACM’s attorneys say that their client is “devastated,” and that they plan to challenge the decision. For that to happen, the woman would have to bring her case to a federal circuit court or convince Attorney General Jeff Sessions to intervene on her behalf.

Read the full story at CNN.


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