Not content with arresting nearly 40 percent more immigrants on average since the new administration took office, in July 2017 the Department of Homeland Security and the White House began to investigate the possibility of expanding expedited removals, which would significantly alter the immigration landscape in the United States for a multitude of reasons.
The move would not be without controversy at a political level, but immigrant rights groups are incensed at what they argue would be a near-unlimited authority to arrest anyone without status, regardless of potential extenuating circumstances.
If you are undocumented, being conversant with the nitty-gritty details of the law may at least make your next steps more clear.
History of Expedited Removal
Expedited removal is a process that came into being in 1996, under the Illegal Immigration Reform & Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA). For its first few years, it was used almost exclusively at the border, only expanding in 2004 when George W. Bush signed orders permitting the procedure’s use within 100 miles of any border. The law also states explicitly that it is to be used only on ‘arriving aliens,’ rather than people who have been in the United States for some time already.
Now the administration seeks to extend its use to all over the country, and in theory to those who are no longer ‘arriving’ aliens; as of this writing Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel have been given basically carte blanche to arrest anyone in any undocumented status—regardless of whether or not they have an asylum claim pending, or another reason to lawfully remain in the United States while the courts handle their case.
Unaccompanied minors are not subject to expedited removal, but any other class of potential immigrant is, though everyone detained is supposed to be granted an opportunity to declare a credible fear of future persecution (thus, stating an intent to file for asylum). However, in recent months, that opportunity has not been granted—some asylum seekers have allegedly been turned away at the U.S.-Mexican border, not even permitting them a chance to enter the country to make their claim.
Expanding expedited removals risks even more mistakes and deliberate omissions, if only because such initiatives require significant amounts of personnel that ICE currently lacks.
The Issue in Immigration Court
Another significant issue to keep in mind with such a proposal is that while it is still in draft status, the memo does state that such a policy of expedited removal will “enhance national security and public safety” by “alleviating” some of the momentous backlog currently faced by the U.S. immigration system. This choice of words is quite significant—as of this writing, the TRAC Immigration system at Syracuse University reports 598,943 cases awaiting action in immigration court—a jump of approximately 16 percent from 2016 to 2017.
Taken at face value, which is the standard generally suggested for interpretation of such memos and the issues raised, this appears to state that expedited removal would be able to be used to deport men and women even while they wait for their case to be decided. This would be a momentous breach of due process—to which anyone living in the U.S. is entitled, even the undocumented.
There might conceivably be legal challenges if this guidance becomes law, but that will not help, say, the people whose case has been pending for over 20 years (which is common for Indian and Mexican nationals) who are then unceremoniously dropped or sources have been misused to allow others to ‘shape the queue,’ so to speak.
Ask a Deportation Defense Attorney
If this guidance is put into practice, there is very little, if anything, that can be done to stop expedited removal once it begins. However, the passionate Chicago deportation defense attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC will never stop fighting for you. Contact the office today to set up an initial appointment.
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