ICE Chicago removes former Bosnian Serbian Army officer who lied to obtain immigration benefits
CHICAGO — A Bosnian man residing in Chicago, who served as an officer in the Bosnian conflict during the 1990s, was deported Monday by deportation officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).
On Jan. 28, 2016, Jovo Asentic, 65, was ordered removed by a federal immigration judge after he failed to disclose his service in the Army of Republika Srpska (the Bosnian Serb Army, abbreviated VRS) during the 1992-1995 Bosnian conflict. He purposely failed to disclose his VRS service in his U.S. immigration applications.
In 2006, ICE officials discovered that Asentic had repeatedly failed to disclose this information and interviewed him under oath. Once confronted with previously unavailable evidence, Asentic finally acknowledged that he had been part of the Zvornik Brigade from 1992 to 1996.
Documents showed that Asentic’s superiors promoted him rapidly, from private to acting captain, because they considered him a reliable officer. In addition to his officer status, evidence indicated that he was on duty in July 1995 in an area where he and his unit were in a position to block escape routes during the Srebrenica genocide, where 7,000 to 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serb forces.
The immigration judge deemed the nature of Asentic’s misrepresentations “particularly serious” because they were done deliberately out of fear that telling the truth would prevent him from coming to the United States, and also because his omission was in the context of his extensive military service at a time when the VRS committed atrocities.
The Board of Immigration Appeals upheld the immigration judge’s findings on removability and on Asentic’s application for a waiver. The U.S. Court of the Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the Board’s decision in October.
This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Chicago. Support was also provided by ICE’s Office of Chief Counsel in Chicago, and ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC). The HRVWCC was established in 2009 to further ICE’s efforts to identify, locate and prosecute human rights abusers in the United States, including those who are known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, female genital mutilation and the use or recruitment of child soldiers. The HRVWCC leverages the expertise of a select group of agents, lawyers, intelligence and research specialists, historians and analysts who direct the agency’s broader enforcement efforts against these offenders.
Since 2003, ICE has arrested more than 395 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders against and physically removed 835 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States. Additionally, ICE has facilitated the departure of an additional 112 such individuals from the United States.
Currently, HSI has more than 130 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,750 leads and removals cases involving suspected human rights violators from 95 different countries. Since 2003, the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center has issued more than 74,000 lookouts for individuals from more than 110 countries and stopped over 234 human rights violators and war crimes suspects from entering the U.S.
Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to call the ICE tip line at 1-866-DHS-2423 (1-866-347-2423). Callers may remain anonymous.