Aug 02

How did expedited removal become so popular?

Expedited removal, a State Department deportation process that does not allow for an immigration hearing, has become more and more popular since 2005. In fact, only about 20% of deportees even get a hearing. How did this state of affairs come about?

One reason is that the ICE is under pressure from opposing factions to deport 400,000 people every year. Add to that the fact that funding for court hearings has been reduced, both during the Bush administration and the current. With the current number of cases pending reaches 400,000, there is a lot of pressure to just “do it.”

One thing that should be made clear, and that is the expedited removal is not exactly arbitrary, and it does not mean that there is NO due process. Agents must still go over every deportee’s record, no matter how briefly, to make sure that they are not on one of the eligibility lists that would qualify them for asylum, e.g., they are legitimate political asylum seekers. And even if there is a question as to eligibility, their cases should be viewed by a judge. That is how it works in practice. Many deportees and their attorneys complain that their records are not well reviewed, and that often it seems arbitrary as to who gets a hearing and who does not.

One provision of expedited removal is that the undocumented immigrant must be apprehended within 100 miles of the border and within two weeks of entering. The presumed justification for this is that most immigrants who match those criteria have not yet settled in. They do not typically have jobs or regular lodging. Undocumented immigrants who do are more difficult to deport.

However, the policy does not take into account that many people in this group already have family here and often have a job set up, albeit illegally. With expedited removal, they have permanent black mark on their record, and if they reenter at a later date to join their family, that black mark will make them eternally persona non grata.