Paraguay’s NY consul in US illegally
ASUNCIÓN, Paraguay - Paraguay named an undocumented US immigrant to run its consulate in New York, discovering his illegal status only when the man returned home to get his diplomatic papers and was denied a US visa.
Paraguay’s foreign ministry acknowledged yesterday that it was a mistake to name Augusto Noguera as the consulate’s “first official,’’ but said President Fernando Lugo annulled the decision as soon as he was informed of the US Embassy’s visa denial.
Vice Foreign Minister Manuel Maria Caceres told the Associated Press that the decision to name Noguera as a diplomat Sept. 21 was made in good faith because the ministry didn’t know of his legal status in New York.
Despite the visa denial, Noguera tried to return to his wife and three US-born children, ages 10, 9, and 3, by crossing into the United States near Tijuana, Mexico. He was detained by US officials and is being held in Chula Vista, Calif., Caceres said.
Paraguay’s Los Angeles consul, Ruben Benitez, is arranging legal assistance for Noguera and making sure his family has what it needs. “We are watching closely so that Noguera has a fair process,’’ Caceres said.
Noguera had been in the United States for about 17 years, working in construction and becoming a pillar of New York’s 20,000-strong Paraguayan community, said Representative Elvis Balbuena of the Authentic Radical Liberal Party, who had lobbied for Lugo to name Noguera to the post.
Noguera has been active in the party’s committee in New York as well as the Centro Paraguayo, a community center in the city’s Flushing district. Paraguayans who promised to support Lugo during his presidential campaign wanted Noguera to run the consulate, Baluena said.