Understanding Expedited Removal

Imagine a policy or a law that would give a common public servant the power to make a decision that could irreversibly affect another person’s life, likely in a negative way. According to the law, the public servant would have an almost unchecked authority to make the decision in question while the affected individual would have virtually no protections afforded to him or her – not even the right to an attorney or to a hearing before a judge. Even though the possibility of an error on the part of a public servant existed, the execution of the decision would nevertheless be swift and the affected individual would have no means of appealing it.

At first glance, such a procedure may seem unlawful and undemocratic. Yet, surprising as it may seem, a process that almost exactly matches the above description exists in the United States in the 21st century. This process is called expedited removal.

What Is Expedited Removal?

Expedited removal is an immigration procedure introduced to American immigration regulations in 1996 under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. This law gave low-level officers of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) the authority to quickly deport certain groups of immigrants without the right to appeal, the right to a lawyer, or the right to a court hearing.

When Can Expedited Removal Be Applied?

The process can only be applied to undocumented aliens only under specific circumstances. Specifically, a noncitizen can be subjected to expedited removal only if they arrive at a point of entry and:

  • they don’t have proper documents that would allow them to legally enter the United States and they do not claim fear of returning to their home country
  • they have committed immigration fraud or misrepresentation

Additionally, expedited removal procedures can also be applied to an individual who has already crossed the border but was apprehended within 14 days of entering the US and within 100 miles of the US border with either Mexico or Canada.

Who Is Protected from Expedited Removal?

Importantly, expedited removal cannot be initiated in relation to selected groups of noncitizens. These include:

  • Lawful permanent residents or green card holders
  • Refugees
  • Asylees
  • Asylum seekers

According to the UN Refugee Agency, an asylum seeker is an individual who is requesting protection from persecution in his or her home country but “whose request for sanctuary has yet to be processed”. If a noncitizen arrives at the U.S. border as an asylum seeker, they will be referred to an asylum officer and subjected to an interview. The purpose of such an interview is to determine whether the person seeking asylum may have a “credible fear” of suffering persecution in his or her home country.

Consequences of Expedited Removal

A noncitizen who has been expelled from the U.S. under the expedited removal process is banned from re-entering the country for up to 10 years and is deemed inadmissible. If your immigration status or the immigration status of a family member has been negatively affected by expedited removal, please contact our team of immigration attorneys at Rotella & Hernandez. While the removal decision under expedited removal procedures cannot be appealed, our attorneys may be able to assist you in containing the damage the removal may have done to your immigration status. Please use the contact form available on our website to get in touch with our legal team.

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