An Executive Order issued by the President on January 25th instructs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to expand the use of “expedited removal”. On February 20, 2017, a memo by DHS stated further instructions are to come regarding what individuals will be subject to expedited removal as instructed by the Executive Order. As of this date, the expansion has not yet taken effect, but these are the facts you need to know about expedited removal and how it works.
Expedited removal is a procedure that lets a DHS official deport a noncitizen without a hearing before an immigration judge. A DHS officer authorized to issue an order of expedited removal (deportation) acts as judge and often arrests a person and orders them deported the same day. Under the law, anyone who arrives at a port of entry in the United States that is inadmissible due to misrepresentation or lack of valid entry documents, is subject to expedited removal. DHS usually only applies expedited removal to noncitizens in these categories who either just arrived at a port of entry, or are apprehended within 14 days of their arrival and within 100 miles of an international land border.
The only time expedited removal cannot be applied is when individuals flee persecution in their countries of origin. If, during the expedited removal process before a DHS officer, a person states they fear returning to their home country, the officer must refer them for an interview with an asylum officer. In fact, DHS officers are required by law to read information to individual’s subject to expedited removal that lets them know they have a right to speak to an asylum officer if they express a fear of return. If an asylum officer determines that there is a credible fear, the applicant is taken out of expedited removal process, served with a Notice to Appear to court, and is placed in removal proceedings before an immigration judge. They may then pursue an asylum application and any other form of relief for which they are eligible.
DHS officers are also obligated to put people into immigration court proceedings, instead of expedited removal, if that person provides proof of their presence in the United States for at least two years.
It may be a good idea to carry documents proving this as it may convince a DHS officer to place someone into removal proceedings instead of expedited removal. There is no guarantee that DHS officers will decide that the documents presented are enough proof of presence in the United States to avoid expedited removal. However, if you choose to carry documents with you, DHS and the immigration courts often consider things like copies of documents from schools, places of work, churches, and banks.
If expedited removal is applied as instructed by the President, immigration officers may start to use it against any noncitizen caught anywhere in the United States who is inadmissible due to allegations of fraud or lack of entry documents, and who entered without inspection less than two years prior to the date of detention. DHS could also apply the process to more people, potentially including U.S. citizens and noncitizens with substantial ties to the United States.
FIND OUT WHERE YOU STAND AND STAY INFORMED! You may already qualify for a benefit that you are not aware of yet. If you have never talked to an immigration attorney about your situation before, now is the best time to do so – before the new administration makes changes that may affect you and your family. Contact an experienced, licensed attorney to find out what YOU can do to help your situation.
If you would like our assistance, contact our office today at 210-932-3600 to set up a consultation.