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Feb 28, 2024 | Nancy Chen

Expedited Removal: Immigration Policy Explained

There is a possibility that an immigration officer will not tell you that you are in the process for expedited removal. Here's how to be prepared.

Democrats have been involved in fierce debate in Congress regarding changes to immigration policies, and changes to expedited removals could be on the way. What is expedited removal? What do you do if you feel there’s a possibility of being placed into removal proceedings? You’ll find the answers to these questions in this article.

What is expedited removal?

Expedited removal is a process that allows immigration officers to deport certain noncitizens who are undocumented or who have committed misrepresentation or fraud to procure their admission into the United States. Individuals undergoing this process usually are not granted the due-process protections given to others, including the right to an attorney and to a hearing before a judge, according to the American Immigration Council.

It is tricky because if the immigration officer determines an individual to be subject to removal, the individual bears the burden of proving that the expedited removal process does not apply to them. Individuals also have no right to appeal the decision that they are subject to expedited removal.

Expedited removal may be used for these groups of individuals encountered within the country: 1) individuals having arrived by sea and being encountered within two years; 2) individuals apprehended within 100 miles of the U.S. border within 14 days of entering the country.

Also Read: What the 100-Mile Border Zone Means for Civilians in the United States

U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (LPR), those with valid and unexpired visas and admitted refugees or asylum seekers are not subject to expedited removal. Unaccompanied minors are not subject to expedited removal and are placed in formal removal proceedings instead.

Typically, as the American Immigration Council explains, the Department of Homeland Security applies expedited removal to Mexican and Canadian nationals with criminal or immigration violation histories or those transiting through Mexico or Canada.

There is a possibility that the immigration officer does not directly tell you that you are in an expedited removal. One sign is that you may be asked if you have a fear of being deported from the U.S. or returned to your home country. You will only be certain that you are in the process if you receive Form I-860, Notice and Order of Expedited Removal.

Credible fear determination

If you have a credible fear of returning to your home country, you are entitled to a credible fear interview with an asylum officer before being deported. You will be placed in formal removal proceedings instead of expedited removal.

A credible fear determination is a screening process for immigration officers to evaluate if an alien qualifies for one of the following: asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Read More: Credible Fear Interview: A Critical Step in the Asylum Process

What to do if you are concerned about being questioned by immigration officers?

Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) has created a detailed flowchart that discusses what to do if you suspect you will be in this process.

Remember that you have the right to keep silent. You don’t have to tell immigration officers your personal information if you are questioned by them. But you should never provide fraudulent information about your citizenship status or fake documents.

You also don’t have to open your door without a judicial warrant and are entitled to ask any officer if they have a search warrant signed by a judge.

As for documents that you should prepare, if you are a citizen or LPR, carry your passport, certification of citizenship or Green Card, respectively. If you are a legal status holder, bring your Employment Authorization Document (EAD), I-94 Arrival/Departure Record, passport with date of entry stamp and/or visa and receipt notice showing pending application for asylum, U-visa or T-visa, if applicable. If you are an undocumented immigrant, ILRC advises you to take photocopies of your documents as your personal belongings may be confiscated. To show that you have been living in the U.S. for two years, photocopies of receipts, leases, utility bills and more can all be served as evidence.

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