Understanding Expedited Removal

Expedited Removal

Understanding Expedited Removal

Each year, thousands of people face the heartbreaking reality of deportation. Formal removal proceedings can take a long time to process through immigration courts and defendants have a right to legal representation. Unfortunately, many fall victim to a different method, called Expedited Removal. Under certain circumstances, the government can remove certain unauthorized immigrants without a court hearing. The lack of proper adjudication can lead to arbitrary decisions made by enforcement officers. These decisions, when made in error or haste, can deny rights to vulnerable people who deserve fair consideration.

Unfortunately, the practice of expedited removal is gaining popularity due to the Trump administration’s support. Because of the dire and often swift nature of expedited removal proceedings, it’s critical that the public possesses an understanding of the ways in which a person can be removed from America via this process. Thus, today’s article reviews basic information about expedited removal, as well as explains the processes and politics behind it.

About Expedited Removal

Enacted in 1996, expedited removal allows certain low-ranking government officials to swiftly remove certain noncitizens from the United States (U.S.) and involves the denying of due process and certain rights, including the right to a hearing and an attorney.[1] Typically, to be eligible for expedited removal, a foreign national must either be undocumented or committed some type of falsification or fraud. Additionally, certain people are never eligible for expedited removal. These include U.S. citizens, green card holders (lawful permanent residents), refugees, and asylum seekers. Unfortunately, errors occur and sometimes migrants like asylum seekers receive deportation orders via expedited removal.

According to the American Immigration Council (AIC), U.S. officials at America’s borders have heavily relied on expedited removal since 2004. At that time, officials began to use it to remove those who crossed the border without authorization, including those who are arrested by border patrol within a certain timeframe and/or distance from the border. Typically, if authorities apprehend a person within two weeks of arrival OR within 100 miles of either the Mexican or Canadian border, they become eligible for expedited removal.

The New York Times provides more information about this issue, including FAQs about the expedited removal process and undocumented immigrants’ right to due process. You can read the article here.

Major Weaknesses of Expedited Removal

Severe weaknesses exist within the expedited removal process. Most importantly, immigration officers have complete authority over a person’s fate. Because those subject to expedited removal do not have a right to see a judge, their life is in the hands of their immigration officer who serves both as “prosecutor and judge.”[2] This unfair process places already vulnerable people in harm’s way, potentially subjecting them to mistaken deportations. The AIC highlights that many who are deported via expedited removal would likely receive deportation relief if allowed an immigration hearing. The deprivation of this process is a denial of human rights. This is further exacerbated by the finality of an immigration officer’s decision – it is not appealable.

Despite these concerns, expedited removal continues to increase in popularity since 2004. For example, in fiscal year (FY) 2013, a total of 44% of all removals occurred via expedited removal. And unfortunately, the Trump administration highly supports the process. This means it is likely to gain popularity in the coming years.

Talk to an Expert Austin Immigration Lawyer

The threat of deportation, especially when expedited removal may be an option, can be very frightening. If you face removal proceedings of any kind, you must contact an experienced deportation defense lawyer immediately. Remember, avoid scams and only work with attorneys certified by your state’s bar association. Also avoid anyone who promises you a specific outcome – no lawyer can guarantee how a case will proceed. A great immigration lawyer will discuss your options with you and work diligently to protect your rights.

Nanthaveth & Associates provides top-tier legal representation in the field of immigration law. Located in Austin, our experienced attorneys work tirelessly to ensure clients receive fair consideration throughout their experience. Whether you’re seeking a green card or visa, wish to apply for asylum, or need to defend yourself from deportation, we can help. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation. You’ll sit down with one of our experts and leave with an path forward.


[1] American Immigration Council. (2017, February 3). A Primer on Expedited Removal. Retrieved from https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org

[2] American Immigration Council. (2017, February 3).