Judge Orders Deportation of Accused Liberian Warlord

Liberian Flag

An immigration judge in New York ordered the deportation of George Boley, Sr., an accused war criminal from Liberia. Federal authorities have alleged that the 62 year-old Boley led a war faction in Liberia in the 1990’s and is responsible for multiple civilian deaths. The government’s case made use of a new federal law addressing the use of child soldiers in warfare.

Liberia endured two bloody civil wars in the past two decades. The first one, launched by rebel leader Charles Taylor against the sitting government, lasted from 1989 to 1996 and claimed over 200,000 lives. During the war, rebel groups split into factions and began to fight one another. The various factions reached a peace agreement in 1995, and Taylor became president in 1997. The second civil war began in 1999, when rebels sought to overthrow Taylor’s government. It lasted until 2003 and killed another 150,000 people.

Boley reportedly first came to the United States as a student in the 1960’s. He re-entered the U.S. illegally, federal authorities claim, sometime after his alleged involvement in Liberian hostilities. He was arrested in January 2010 and stood trial in an immigration court in Batavia, New York in late 2010 and early 2011. The government sought to remove Boley in part under the Child Soldiers Accountability Act of 2008. This adds the use of child soldiers in warfare to the list of grounds for deportation. The judge hearing the case became ill and had to take a leave of absence before ruling on the case, so the outcome of the trial was delayed until this month.

Boley has spent over two years in immigration detention awaiting a resolution of the case. He requested that he be released pending the court’s decision. The immigration judge reportedly supported a monitored release, but lacked the authority to set bail without the approval of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE refused to agree to any release, stating that the “public interest” was best served by keeping him detained.

Boley challenged ICE’s refusal in a November letter, accusing them of improperly second-guessing the judge. The ICE field office director in Buffalo responded to him by accusing him of coming to the United States in order to escape prosecution for war crimes. Boley claims that the accusations of war crimes brought out at his trial remain uncorroborated, and that there have been no efforts to prosecute him in Liberia. He also disputes the government’s claims that he entered the United States illegally.

In January, Boley filed a petition in federal district court alleging that the government had wrongfully detained him. He asked the district court to intervene and order him to be released. On February 6, however, the immigration judge issued a deportation order finding Boley “removable” from the United States. It is the first deportation order obtained under the Child Soldier Accountability Act.

Ohio immigration visa lawyer Gus Shihab helps people understand and navigate the U.S. immigration system, which includes the constantly-changing politics of our immigration laws. For a free and confidential consultation, contact us through our website or at (800) 625-3404.

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Photo credit: ‘Flag of Liberia’ on Wikimedia Commons.