Court Provides Hope for Asylum Seekers Facing Expedited Removal


Court Provides Hope for Asylum Seekers Facing Expedited Removal

Each year, the United States removes tens of thousands of people through a process called “expedited removal.” In fact, during fiscal year (FY) 2013, nearly 44% of all U.S. deportations happened via expedited removal. Unfortunately, the process is rife with potential for error and prejudice. Those facing such proceedings do not have the right to a hearing before a judge, and a low-level immigration officer makes a non-appealable decision regarding their future. Luckily, there is now hope for those with crushing and life-altering expedited removal decisions. In early March, a federal appeals court ruled that it should be possible for certain foreign nationals (asylum seekers) to appeal expedited removal decisions to federal court.

This article will review the landmark appeals court decision in further detail, as well as the following:

  • What is expedited removal?
  • Who is subject to expedited removal?
  • Who can appeal expedited removal decisions?
  • What might happen in the future regarding expedited removal?

Most importantly, if you have any questions or concerns about expedited removal, the time to ask is now. Don’t wait – talk with an experienced and compassionate immigration attorney today. The legal team at Nanthaveth & Associates is ready to help – contact us today for a free initial consultation with one of our immigration experts.

About Expedited Removal

Created in 1996 via the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, expedited removal has gained popularity in recent years. This has become increasingly true under President Trump. The Trump administration heavily supports the use of expedited removal – in early 2017, shortly after his inauguration, the president issued the Executive Order “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements.” This order sought to expand expedited removal proceedings to include those without legal status who are apprehended within two years of arrival. As of Fall 2018, this had not yet occurred. Though, it is obvious that this is the ultimate goal of the Trump administration.

Expedited Removal – What is it?

Formally, expedited removal is a process by which the U.S. can deport or remove certain foreign nationals via a quickened process. Standard deportation proceedings can take months or even years – expedited removal provides a quicker way to deport certain individuals.

Who can the U.S. Deport via Expedited Removal?

According to U.S. law, only certain foreign nationals can be subject to expedited removal. This includes any noncitizens apprehended without legal status by U.S. immigration officers within 100 miles of any land border (Canada or Mexico) and within two weeks of arrival. Any person in traditional removal proceedings who has legal status (i.e., a green card or visa) cannot be subjected to expedited removal.

Can the U.S. Deport Asylum Seekers through Expedited Removal?

Technically, yes, but only after certain steps occur to determine eligibility for asylum. When a person arrives at the border and/or the U.S. apprehends them, they most likely will face “defensive asylum” proceedings. During these proceedings, a person must defend themselves against deportation, proving their asylum claim is reasonable. Thus, those who seek defensive asylum must undergo “credible fear” screenings. During such a screening, an asylum officer will quickly deduce if they believe a person’s fear is “credible.” If credible fear is not found, such asylum seekers can be subject to expedited removal.

Yet, hope exists for defensive asylum seekers. The recent court decision that is the topic of this article provides options for appeal to those seeking asylum at U.S. borders.

What are the Main Problems with Expedited Removal?

Expedited removal denies noncitizens the right of habeas corpus, which means that it denies such people the right to a hearing before a judge, preventing unlawful detention and punishment.  According to Jennifer Moore, a Professor of Law at the University of Mexico School of Law, Habeas Corpus is an “impediment to unlawful detention and a defense against the arbitrary exercise of power.” Habeas Corpus, according to the U.S. Constitution, should only be denied in certain cases when rebellion or public safety necessitates. For those seeking asylum at the U.S. border, neither of the above exceptions apply.

Another concern with expedited removal is that final decisions are made by low-level immigration officers. Further, these life-altering decisions are non-appealable. A person does not have a right to a second round of consideration. This means that the entire expedited removal process is vulnerable to (a) human error, (b) subjective judgment, and (c) prejudice. Unfortunately, those facing expedited removal are often the most vulnerable. They face a system that is not designed to protect, but to remove.

Want to Learn More?

For more information about expedited removal, including detailed descriptions of the process and access to resources, view our February 2019 article on the topic.

March 2019 Court Ruling

On March 7, a federal appeals court in the Ninth Circuit ruled that asylum seekers who failed credible fear screenings have the right to appeal the decision to a federal court. This decision came as the result of Thuraissigiam v. U.S., a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLA) on behalf of Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam, a Sri Lankan asylum seeker who underwent expedited removal proceedings. The appeals court’s ruling reverses a lower court’s decision. Because of this, the Trump administration may appeal March’s ruling to the Supreme Court. At this time, though, future directions for the case are not clear.

The court stated that asylum seekers receive “meager judicial protections.” The ACLU declared that the victory was “historic,” providing hope for thousands of asylum seekers who fear for their lives. Now, they can appeal fast-tracked “credible fear” rulings and expedited removal decisions to a federal court. This extra layer of consideration provides an additional layer of essential protection for some of the most vulnerable people in the world.

To learn more about this monumental ruling, read our source articles here and here.

Talk to an Austin Immigration Attorney Today

The thought of deportation reasonably sparks fear and worry. But don’t lose hope – an immigration lawyer can help fight for your rights and ensure you receive fair consideration. When you work with an expert immigration attorney, you provide yourself the best hope for success in the court room. At Nanthaveth & Associates, our legal team works tirelessly to provide top-tier legal representation to immigrants in Austin and throughout Texas. We stay abreast of recent rulings and immigration news so we can serve you better.

If you are facing deportation or know someone who may need help, contact us today. For your convenience and comfort, we provide free initial consultations. During your consultation, you’ll sit down with one of our skilled lawyers, discuss your unique case, and leave with a detailed path forward. There may be options that you did not know about – we can help you search for them. Contact us today!