Immigration Control

Deporting and Excluding Aliens From the United States Gao ID: GGD-90-18 October 26, 1989

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO analyzed: (1) legal and administrative provisions governing the Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS) release of aliens pending their deportation hearings held by the Department of Justice's Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR); (2) the frequency and conditions under which INS released aliens pending hearings and appeals; and (3) the number of aliens who did not appear at hearings and the consequences of their failure to appear.

GAO found that: (1) the government deported an average of 22,000 aliens annually between 1986 and 1988, although millions of aliens illegally entered the United States every year; (2) INS typically released apprehended illegal aliens on bond or on their own recognizance pending their deportation hearings; (3) about 27 percent of apprehended aliens failed to appear for their deportation hearings in New York and Los Angeles; (4) EOIR immigration judges typically closed the cases of aliens who did not appear for hearings, citing their reluctance to hold hearings in absentia because INS may not have properly notified aliens about hearing dates, times, and locations; (5) INS notified aliens by letter of hearing times and places, but did not verify the addresses aliens gave them; (6) aliens who were reapprehended after failing to appear at hearings could still apply for relief from deportation; (7) aliens who failed to appear at hearings delayed the deportation process and actually increased their ability to meet such provisions for relief from deportation as residing in the United States for 7 years, establishing community roots, undertaking positive and beneficial activities, and establishing a family; (8) INS lacked adequate funding to apprehend most illegal aliens, detain those it apprehended, pursue those who did not appear at hearings, and ensure their removal when ordered to depart; and (9) INS emphasized identifying and removing aliens who committed crimes for which they could be deported and assigned low priority to apprehending aliens whose only crime was being in the United States illegally.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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