Former Defense Minister Deported to El Salvador for His Role in Oscar Romero’s Murder

Lead Photo: AP Photo/Luis Romero
AP Photo/Luis Romero
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Last week, 82-year-old José Guillermo García-Merino may not have stood out among the hundreds of Central Americans being deported from the United States, but for El Salvador, having García repatriated is a victory. From 1979 to 1983, García served as El Salvador’s defense minister, and played a part in the 1980 murder of Archbishop Oscar Romeo – who was killed while leading mass and beatified in May 2015 – as well as in the Atlacatl Battalion’s massacre on the El Mozote village during the country’s civil war.

According to National Catholic Reporter, García was protected by Florida for 25 years. On December 8, 2015, the Board of Immigration Appeals upheld a 2014 case that said that he was “removable” from the U.S. because he “knew or should have known about extrajudicial killing and torture, under the theory of command responsibility,” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement stated.

Since 2004, foreign governments have been given a pathway to extract violent criminals through the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act.