An American Flag with the words, what is the trap act?

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On September 13, 2019, the TRAP Act was introduced into Congress. The TRAP Act, also known by its longer name, the Transactional Repression Accountability and Prevention Act of 2019, was created to address the issue of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) abusing its power and overstepping laws of other countries. This article tackles the issues and actions to solve those issues as proposed by the TRAP Act and what it means for immigrants in the United States.


INTERPOL, the International Criminal Police Organization, was created to help prevent and stop crime through cooperation and involvement of police on security matters. This includes crimes such as terrorism, cybercrime, the spreading of narcotics, and transnational organized crime. INTERPOL is made up of multiple countries to ensure that the well-being of each country is being taken into account and to help catch criminals that may have fled across borders looking for sanctuary.

INTERPOL’s Limitations

While INTERPOL does have a lot of power to deal with criminals for a wide variety of different reasons, it does have restrictions. Actions that have been taken due to political, military, religious, or even racial character are protected by the countries that enacted them and will be dealt with in other ways. INTERPOL is forbidden from intervening in the aforementioned actions.

How Does INTERPOL Enforce Its Power?

INTERPOL issues a Red Notice, which is a warrant, on an individual wanted for crimes in another country. Typically, these crimes show aggressive or indignant behavior against that country’s government or a crime that was violent to the people who lived in the country that asked for the warrant.

Red Notice and the United States Department of Justice

A gavel rests in front of an American Flag in a courtroomThe United States is grounded on the belief that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. This idea is granted even to those who cross the country’s borders. This means that an individual who has a Red Notice on them cannot be arrested inside the United States without INTERPOL undergoing the proper channels.

According to the Justice Manual of the United States Department of Justice, “The United States national law prohibits the arrest of the subject of a Red Notice by another INTERPOL Member country, based upon the notice alone.” The United States Justice Department requires the following first before considering to validate the Red Notice within its borders:

  • Existence of a valid extradition treaty between the requesting country and the United States
  • A diplomatic request for provisional arrest of the individual
  • An arrest warrant from the United State’s Attorney’s office of the subject Jurisdiction.

Why Was the TRAP Act Created?

In the United States, there have been continuous cases of immigrants, journalists, activists, and other independent voices being wrongfully arrested due to a Red Notice on them enacted by INTERPOL. In these particular cases, these individuals were in courts for other reasons, such as personal injury lawsuits or visas renewals. These individuals were then reprimanded and taken away by INTERPOL officials without obtaining proper arrest warrants provided by the United States.

The TRAP Act was created to give consequences against INTERPOL personnel who abused their duty and refused to respect the United States’ laws. The TRAP Act seeks to enforce the following actions by INTERPOL:

  • Create a more thorough screening process for notices, diffusions, and other INTERPOL communications between the INTERPOL constitution and the United States’ laws.
  • The country making the claim that an individual has committed a crime and fled over the United States’ borders must issue a notice to the United States. The United States would then be allowed to conduct an investigation with INTERPOL to ensure that proper protocol is followed and that the individual is treated fairly.
  • The United States would be allowed to impose penalties on countries that make actions that violate the INTERPOL Constitution or Rules on the processing of data. This includes suspending a country’s ability to participate in INTERPOL.
  • INTERPOL must fill positions that are left open with individuals who have shown honesty and absolute adherence to INTERPOL’s constitution and respect to other governments’ laws and beliefs.
  • INTERPOL would be required to submit an annual report of its actions so that other countries may review it and hold the agency accountable for following its own laws and the laws of the respective government.

If the TRAP Act passes, it would help support the safety of immigrants seeking to start a new life in other countries such as the United States and prevent harassment from INTERPOL.

Immigration Attorneys

The attorneys at Hernandez Law Group, P.C. believe that our clients should be updated with what is happening in the world around them. Even though the TRAP Act has not passed through all of the necessary channels to be enacted, we believe that educating our clients will help them understand what is being done on their behalf by the United States government. The Hernandez Law Group, P.C. is proud to support the hard-working immigrants who are seeking better opportunities and a new life here in Texas. Contact us today for help with gaining your citizenship or applying for visas or green card.