Within three days of my article highlighting a dormant provision of immigration law for deporting illegal aliens, Attorney General John Ashcroft and his INS commissioner announced the revival Friday of that same section of law to prevent illegal alien invasion "by sea." Aliens smuggled "by sea" now will be put on an expedited removal track by the INS, instead of falling into the non-deportation limbo of Immigration Court bureaucracy in the Executive Office for Immigration Review. Ashcroft's reform does not go as far as it could, under the discretion already given to the Attorney General by Congress. But it represents a step forward for immigration law enforcement.
Bravo! Now if the Bush Administration could just secure the land borders...
With the announcement of regulations to be published in the federal register this week, the INS brought section 235(b)(1)(A)(iii) of the Immigration Act to life for the first time since becoming law in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. The Attorney General used his authority to designate illegal aliens who came to the United States "by sea, either by boat or other means, who are not admitted or paroled" as subject to expedited removal.
Expedited removal can already be used on aliens who arrive at ports of entry and airports without valid documents and for those caught entering by fraud. It could have been extended to all successfully-smuggled illegal aliens found within two years of their arrival. But Ashcroft did not go that far. Yet.
The new reform provides a defense against the real possibility of a flood of economic refugees by sea, famously described in the novel by Jean Raspail, The Camp of the Saints. Otherwise, an alien flotilla would have bottlenecked in the litigation bureaucracy of EOIR Immigration Court and crashed the entire system.
When the new "by sea" designation goes into effect, future sea arrivals won't be given automatic hearings before the alien-friendly Immigration Court. They also won't have the chance for automatic bond hearings, where they could be released from INS custody by EOIR immigration judges.
Instead, illegal "by sea" aliens who do not present themselves for inspection at a designated port of entry will be detained in INS custody.
The INS does have the option of releasing them under a "humanitarian parole." And the "by sea" aliens will also be given the chance to claim political asylum. But "by sea" aliens will no longer be automatically released on immigration bonds to remain here indefinitely while their cases grind on in EOIR Immigration Court.
Smuggled Chinese, call your snakeheads!
It turns out that deporting illegal aliens just might be, contrary to departing INS Commissioner James Ziglar's notorious quip, "practical or reasonable" after all.
November 11, 2002