What is Expedited Removal?
Among the hundreds of thousands who are deported from the United States (U.S.) each year, many are removed via a process called “Expedited Removal.” While some people may understand what this process is, others may be a little more confused. This article aims to review some basic information about expedited removal. It will also explore who is eligible for expedited removal, what the process looks like, and what concerns exist.
Currently, expedited removal’s use is on the rise. President Trump and his administration support the removal process despite its many apparent setbacks. Amongst these include the possibility for denial of due process, considering that candidates removed via expedited removal do not receive a court date and cannot appeal decisions. Yet, the president issued an executive order on January 25, 2017, that ordered the rapid expansion of expedited removal.
This article utilizes the American Immigration Council’s (AIC) article, “A Primer on Expedited Removal.” Unless otherwise sourced, information comes from this excellent and informative piece.
A History of Expedited Removal
Expedited removal was created in 1996 via the Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act. Since then, it has grown in use and popularity as the U.S. government relies on it more heavily. Expedited Removal allows for the rapid deportation of certain noncitizens from U.S. soil. Typically, low-level government officials render decisions more suited to a judge. These officials may not have the skills, training, or education necessary to handle such sensitive decisions.
Because decisions made by these officials are not appealable, they wield immense and inappropriate power over their subjects. They serve as both judge and jury, imparting sentences rapidly. According to the American Immigration Council (AIC), those who decide expedited removal cases have “unchecked authority,” which should be a concern in any legal, judicial, or government situation.
Beginning in 2004, expedited removal’s use became more frequent at the U.S. border as agents attempted to appropriately manage the massive influx of migrants and immigrants seeking protection and better lives. The process has become so popular that in Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, nearly 44% of all deportations were conducted via expedited removal.
Who is Eligible for Expedited Removal?
Only certain people can be eligible for expedited removal, though the eligibility is far-reaching and can apply in many ways. In the majority of cases, the U.S. utilizes expedited removal in two predictable ways. Firstly, the government uses expedited removal to deport those who arrive and are inadmissible at any U.S. border. Secondly, it is used when a person with no legal status is apprehended within two weeks of arrival and/or within 100 miles of any land border (Canada and Mexico).
Legally, the U.S. government cannot subject certain people to expedited removal. These include U.S. citizens and green card holders (also known as “lawful permanent residents”). Additionally, the process should not be used for asylees or refugees, yet as we discuss later, there are not enough protections to ensure this doesn’t happen. As a note, if a defensive asylum seeker fails to demonstrate “credible fear,” the U.S. will likely order them immediately removed.
What Happens During Expedited Removal?
During expedited removal, a person’s fate is solely in the hands of one immigration officer. The U.S. government does not apply rules and standards for due process to the expedited removal system. Obviously, this can lead to errors and inappropriate denials that can destroy lives. When a person cannot defend themselves in court, and has no access to an attorney, potential options for removal relief are not available. Instead, someone who legally deserves relief from deportation finds themselves sent back home, potentially to a dangerous environment.
The AIC points out that the expedited removal process happens so swiftly that officials rarely even collect evidence regarding the case. For example, the expedited removal process rarely utilizes evidence or assistance from friends, family members, and attorneys.
What are the Main Concerns with Expedited Removal?
According to the AIC, there are several main concerns regarding expedited removal. They are (1) wrongful deportations, (2) lack of true protection for asylum seekers, and (3) asylum case backlogs. We discuss each briefly below.
As discussed throughout this article, the unilateral and unappealable decision-making utilized in expedited removal is very concerning. This is because it makes the system vulnerable to human error, mistakes, and prejudice. When one person possesses complete authority over another, there is always potential for serious problems, especially when considering due process. The process does not allow a defendant the opportunity to go before a judge, preventing the ability to seek relief or legal representation.
The above means that the U.S. deports many people who could achieve relief from removal, if afforded the opportunity to defend themselves. For example, the AIC discusses that a witness of a particular crime may be eligible for deportation relief – but they cannot defend themselves and thus face deportation. This is denial of due process and, in some cases, risks the lives of those deported.
Considering Asylum Seekers
Studies have shown that “in practice, not all persons expressing a fear of persecution if returned to their home countries are provided a credible or reasonable fear screening.” This means that the U.S. removes many asylum seekers who may face disastrous or life-ending consequences upon return to their home country. The same study found that the U.S. government didn’t have proper procedures in place to ensure adequate protection for asylum seekers.
Further, if an asylum seeker passes their credible fear screening, they will likely face the crushing reality of immigration detention. ICE or DHS often detains defensive asylum seekers while they await court decisions. Because these immigrants are in custody, the federal government allocates more resources and manpower to the defensive asylum application process. Because of reallocation, this has contributed to the stunning case backlog of affirmative asylum cases, which last year equaled roughly 300,000 cases.
Concerned? Contact an Expert Houston Immigration Attorney.
If you have a question about expedited removal, the time to ask is now. Expedited removal proceedings can devastate lives and separate loved ones. Contact an expert deportation attorney today. A experienced lawyer will discuss your options and will be able to help you protect yourself ahead of time. Remember, never work with “notarios” or “visa consultants,” who are not qualified to provide legal representation and guidance.
In Houston, Davis & Associates is a powerful and reputable immigration law firm. Our attorneys work tirelessly to provide top-tier legal representation to every client. No matter your immigration concern, contact us today – we are ready to help! For your convenience, we offer free initial consultations. That way, you can meet with one of our expert attorneys and understand your options before you commit.
Hope exists – we can help. Contact us today!