NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 23, 2006

Amid the heated debate over the rising numbers of undocumented Latin Americans entering the United States, the Department of Homeland Security in September announced a new initiative to expand the use of "expedited removals," or deportations that take place without an immigration hearing, says the Wall Street Journal.

Undocumented immigrants enter the United States at a rate of about 500,000 a year, according to independent estimates. Speedy repatriation is part of a new effort by the U.S. government to cut the red tape in deportations of illegal border crossers. Under the new policy:

  • Anyone caught within 100 miles of the border and within 14 days of illegally entering the United States is subject to expedited removal; they are entitled to present their case to an immigration judge if they have a credible fear of persecution or torture, but few illegal immigrants are political refugees.
  • Two or three flights filled with deportees head to Guatemala each week; similar flights are bound for Brazil, El Salvador and Honduras.
  • In a little over four months, more than 5,000 illegal immigrants have been removed under the program, mainly by putting them on flights home; officials say they sense a sharp decline in attempts among Brazilian nationals.

Until last fall, non-Mexicans caught crossing the border illegally received notice to appear at a local immigration court, often several months later. Needless to say, no-show rates at deportation hearings were very high and close to 100 percent in some areas.

Experts say it's overwhelmingly rational for illegal border crossers to try again and chances are they will be successful. One recent study found that 92 percent of those who tried to enter the United States made it by the fourth try, a majority made it by the second time and only 8 percent gave up after failing.

Source: Miriam Jordan, "New Rules at the Border," Wall Street Journal, February 21, 2006.

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