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US citizen could face deportation following arrest during last week's unrest

Spanish police cite public order and security concerns to justify measure

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25 October 2019 11:30 AM

by

Cristina Tomàs White|Barcelona

Eric, a US citizen who has lived in El Masnou, a town just north of Barcelona, for years, could face deportation from the country following his arrest last Friday at one of the many protests against the sentencing of 9 independence leaders for sedition for supposed public order and security concerns.

According to the Spanish police officers who detained him on Barcelona's Via Laietana, near the city's Spanish police headquarters where many of the most turbulent protests took place, his pockets were searched leading to the confiscation of a pro-independence Catalan flag, or 'estelada', as well as two metal nuts.

The police in question allege that Eric began insulting them in English, pushing and grabbing one of them by the arm before they both fell, which is when they claim to have proceeded to arrest him. Eric, on the other hand, maintains that they seized his flag and he simply asked them to return it.  

Regardless of what may or may not have transpired that night in question, what started out as an ordinary detention for his purported role in the altercations turned into an administrative one – that is to say, one that could ultimately lead to him having his residency withdrawn – due to his legal status as an immigrant in Spain, despite the fact that he has lived in the country for fifteen years and is married to and is the father of Spanish nationals.

Two other foreign nationals that were arrested last week in Catalonia amidst the post-sentencing turmoil have already been sent to Barcelona's migrant detention center, where they can be held for up to 60 days before a judge decides whether they should be deported or can remain in the country.

  • "It becomes an attempt to limit his political participation based on his administrative condition [as a foreign resident], which is a violation of his and his family's rights"

    Marc Pairó · IACTA lawyer

Although Eric was released on Saturday morning, the Spanish police have opened a case against him citing public order and security concerns, which according to Article 15 of Royal Decree-law 240/2007 can justify the deportation of EU citizens as well as their family members.

According to one of Eric's lawyers, Marc Pairó of the IACTA legal cooperative in Barcelona, this law is thought for repeat offenders, not for people like his client, "someone with an impeccable behavior – he doesn't have as much as a traffic ticket."

To this effect, Pairó describes his client as a person "with an ordinary life: he is settled both in terms of employment and socially – he is a family man." For Pairó, therefore, invoking the abovementioned Article 15 to justify his deportation is "exceptional" and is "based on his political participation in that protest."

Besides these administrative measures that could lead to Eric's deportation back to the United States, he has also had penal measures applied against him that bar him from political participation in protests and was released on the condition that he go to court every 15 days and provide a judge with his signature.

What happens next

Eric's lawyers are currently presenting both administrative and penal allegations in his defense and expect a legal ruling on the matter in 6 to 7 months.

If an adverse ruling is handed down and it is decided that he should be deported, the case would then go to court. Although the Spanish government subdelegation could technically decide to drop the public order and security charges against him, Pairó affirms that "in practice, that is usually not the case."

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  • Spanish police in Barcelona during the altercations against the sentencing of Catalan leaders (by Miquel Codolar)

  • Marc Pairó, the lawyer representing the US citizen that could face deportation following his arrest at a protest (by Cristina Tomàs White)

  • Spanish police in Barcelona during the altercations against the sentencing of Catalan leaders (by Miquel Codolar)
  • Marc Pairó, the lawyer representing the US citizen that could face deportation following his arrest at a protest (by Cristina Tomàs White)

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