Sala IV says family ties do not prevent deportation

The Sala IV constitutional court has reaffirmed that foreigners must follow the laws of the nation and underlined the chamber’s long-standing position that family ties in Costa Rica do not trump the regulations relating to immigration.

This is believed to be the case of Doug Smith, the private investigator who lived many years here until he was apprehended by immigration officers Nov. 15. Immigration sought to deport him, but his lawyer, Gregory Kearney, filed a habeas corpus appeal with the Sala IV.

Kearney could not be reached immediately.

Smith also said he was roughed up by immigration officers, and the court also addressed this allegation in its decision without naming the expat.

Although the decision does not prevent deportation, the court did order the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería to adopt measures that would prevent injuries to those taken into custody in the future.

Smith alleged in his appeal that immigration agents threw him against a wall and handcuffed him incorrectly so as to cause injury.

He tried to avoid deportation by noting that his common law wife, Chrisley Montero Sandoval, is four months pregnant. Smith also said that he complied with tourism regulations by making a recent trip to Panamá but that his passport documenting this was part of the loot taken by a home burglar. He has been in the Centro de Aprehensión in Hatillo since his arrest.

The decision does not mean that Smith will be deported rapidly. Lawyers frequently file multiple appeals in such cases.

Smith runs an investigation service called Will Spy.  His most recent success was a Web page he did for a client that described a Jacó man correctly as a convicted pedophile. Subsequently that man, Kirk Owen, was deported, in part because of the Web page.

A summary of the Sala IV decision was released by the Poder Judicial Wednesday afternoon.

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