A Czech émigré deemed “Ivan the incorrigible” by the Boston Globe is finally being deported to the Czech Republic, forty years and over 100 criminal charges later.
Ivan Vaclavik, 66, came to the States for a three-week visit in 1974. He hasn’t left since.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has tried to deport Vaclavik, who lived in Massachusetts, at least three times in the past 13 years, but each time Vaclavik managed to slip through the cracks thanks to the shifting borders of his patria. When Vaclavik first left for that fateful visit, his country belonged to the Soviet Union. With the fall of the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, in 1993.
“They already know I cannot be deported,” Vaclavik wrote in a 2003 lawsuit, which ended up being a successful “get out of immigration jail” free card.
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Immigration officials first moved against Vaclavik in 1976. But because no country would issue him a passport, Vaclavik was effectively a criminal without a country, with scores of harassment, theft, and assault charges. Vaclavik was finally shown the door on Oct. 8, after police were able to nail him for attempting to steal a pair of shorts.
“Mr. Vaclavik was escorted by ICE officers to the Czech Republic after being issued a passport by the Government of the Czech Republic,” Daniel Modricker, spokesman for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in a statement.
Vaclavik had been wearing an electronic tracking device on his ankle since January of last year.
His victims included a woman who was harassed by Vaclavik to the point of obtaining a restraining order, an 11-year-old girl he accosted in a hotel pool, and Chris Pedersen, owner of Charles Street Liquors, where Vaclavik was caught trying to steal bottles of champagne in 2011.
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“It’s nice to know . . . I’ll go home and have a glass of wine tonight,” said Pederson, after the Globe told him about Vaclavik’s removal. “It should have happened a long time ago.”
“I never thought he was going to be deported,” said the woman with the restraining order. “I know they’ve tried so many times.”
Thousands of immigrants charged with crimes are still in the United States because their home countries refuse to take them back. Four decades after the fact is better late than never for ICE and Vaclavik’s victims.