Immigration Law

American Exile: Rapid Deportations That Bypass the Courtroom

"Every year, hundreds of thousands of people (83 percent) are deported from the United States without a hearing.  These individuals never see a judge; instead, their rights and fates are determined by a single immigration enforcement officer in a summary removal procedure that can take mere minutes.  The officer issuing a deportation order is the same officer who arrests, detains, prosecutes, and deports the individual; there is no independence, no opportunity for the individual to speak to a lawyer, and no meaningful opportunity for the individual to defend his or her rights to be in the United States.  Those deported in these near-instantaneous removal procedures — which are used in over 83 percent of all deportations — include U.S. citizens, longtime residents with U.S. citizen children, asylum seekers, and individuals with valid work and tourist visas.  While a person can be ordered removed and deported in a matter of hours, the consequences and ramifications of these removal orders can last a lifetime; individuals are banished for years, sometimes for life, and with almost no opportunity to fix an unfair or even illegal removal order.  This report documents 136 cases of individuals who faced deportation from the United States without the basic opportunity to be heard in court — in some cases, with shattering consequences for them and their U.S. citizen family." - Sarah Mehta, ACLU, Dec. 2014.