Illegal AliensOpportunities Exist to Improve the Expedited Removal Process Gao ID: GGD-00-176 September 1, 2000
In fiscal year 1999, Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) inspectors generally complied with the requirements of the expedited removal process, whereby aliens who have made false representations about themselves or who do not have visas or passports are removed from the United States. In the Los Angeles, Miami, and New York asylum offices, all cases concerning credible fear of persecution or torture were documented appropriately. In cases where aliens wished to withdraw a claim of fear of persecution or torture, they did not have to cite a reason for recanting until July 2000, when, after discussions with GAO, reason for recanting became a requirement. According to GAO's survey, an estimated 78 percent of the aliens determined to have a credible fear of persecution or torture were released from detention.
GAO noted that: (1) analysis of documentation in 365 randomly selected case files of aliens who were processed for expedited removal in fiscal year 1999 indicated that INS inspectors were generally complying with requirements of the expedited removal process at the Los Angeles, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and Miami airports and the San Ysidro port of entry; (2) these requirements include asking aliens if they feared being returned to their home country, having a supervisor review the inspectors' decisions to remove the alien, and having aliens sign their sworn statements; (3) in the Los Angeles, Miami, and New York asylum offices, GAO reviewed all 45 cases in which an asylum officer determined that the aliens did not have a credible fear of persecution or torture; (4) in these cases, asylum officers generally complied with documenting the credible fear process; (5) INS guidance requires that asylum officers document an alien's wish to withdraw a claim of fear of persecution or torture by having the alien: (a) make this request in writing; or (b) sign a statement indicating that the decision was voluntary; (6) in 8 percent of 10,755 cases, aliens recanted their claims of a fear of persecution or torture between April 1, 1997, and September 30, 1999; (7) the asylum offices varied in the amount of documentation they obtained from aliens recanting their claims of a fear of persecution or torture; (8) in July 2000, INS required that asylum officers document the alien's reason for not asking for protection from being removed from the United States; (9) INS favors releasing aliens from detention, in cases when an asylum officer determined those aliens to have a credible fear of persecution or torture if INS determines the aliens do not pose a flight risk or danger to the community; (10) in fiscal year 1999, 78 percent of aliens in cases when asylum officers determined those aliens to have a credible fear of persecution or torture, were released; (11) data on aliens who were found to have a credible fear of persecution or torture between April 1, 1997, and September 30, 1999, showed that 2,351 aliens were released and had received an immigration judge's decision; (12) of the 2,351 aliens, 1,000 (or 42 percent) of them had not appeared for their removal hearings; (13) Department of Justice officials pointed out that over time more cases will be closed in which aliens will have appeared for their removal hearings; and consequently, this would result in a reduction of the failure to appear rate, to as low as 25 percent; and (14) INS has efforts under way to increase aliens' appearance rates.Recommendations
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.Director: Team: Phone: