What Secretary Chertoff and his public relations minions forgot to tell you: this so-called "expansion" of the summary removal provisions of Immigration Act Section 235(b) still represents just a small fraction of the authority expressly granted by Congress nine years ago.
The DHS' press release trumpeted:
"The ER [expedited removal] administrative process is aimed at reducing the number of illegal aliens from countries other than Mexico who have spent less than 14 days in the United States and who are apprehended within 100 miles of the border."
"'Expanding Expedited Removal gives Border Patrol agents the ability to break the cycle of illegal migration. The use of this authority will allow DHS the ability to gain greater control of our borders and to protect our country against the terrorist threat,' stated Secretary Chertoff. 'The Expedited Removal process will rapidly return illegal aliens in the United States to their country of origin while giving those seeking protection the judicial process to pursue their claim before an immigration judge.'"
I'm a big fan of expedited removal as an immigration law enforcement tool because it actually physically deports illegal aliens who have no business being in the United States.
It also keeps border-jumpers and visa over-stayers AWAY from the permanent amnesty candy store of immigration benefits that is the Immigration Court system in the Department of Justice's Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).
Thousands of Border Patrol agents and Immigration Inspectors across the country are perfectly capable of determining whether or not an alien has valid immigration status in the United States.
But for about nine years now, they have been prevented from doing their jobs: to summarily remove illegal aliens to the fullest extent of the law – Immigration Act Section 235(b), that is.
The current Section 235(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act was passed by Congress along with amendments called the "Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996" (IIRIRA). The IIRIRA legislation was signed by President Clinton on September 30, 1996. It became effective on April 1, 1997.
The legislation allowed for the summary removal of illegal aliens found anywhere in the United States—within two years of entering illegally. (It's all there in Immigration Act Section 235(b)(1)(A)(iii).)
And, contrary to the DHS press release, applying expedited removal to "illegal aliens from countries other than Mexico," Section 235(b) as passed by Congress makes no such exemption.
In other words, the Bush Administration still isn't fully implementing the law.
Immediately after passage, the Clinton Administration, through then-INS Commissioner Doris Meissner, and subsequently the Bush Administration, shamelessly mothballed most of Section 235(b). The Section 235(b) authority was only put into effect for immigration inspectors at ports of entry, not for any immigration officers in the interior of the country or outside of airport buildings.
Then, on August 11, 2004, the DHS announced regulations allowing the Border Patrol to summarily remove illegal aliens found within 100 miles of a land border…if discovered within two weeks of their illegal entry. The game of "pass the border and you're home" with illegal aliens had gotten harder, but it continued.
This was still a very limited implementation of the authority previously granted by Congress. Remember that the federal executive agencies have the authority to summarily remove aliens found anywhere in the United States— within two years of entering illegally!
Back in November, 2002, I asked the question –
"So why hasn't the Attorney General [now the DHS Secretary] applied section 235(b)(1)(A)(iii) of the Act to as many illegal aliens as possible, and put section 235(b) to work doing what Congress intended it to do? Lack of political will? Lack of personnel? Inertia?"
Answer: all of the above.
The federal government's nonfeasance in the face of the ongoing illegal alien invasion of these United States is an unreported scandal of enormous proportions.
If Section 235(b) would have been fully implemented as Congress intended, the INS could have stopped Beltway Sniper Malvo instead of dutifully releasing him to the streets to kill Americans while supposedly waiting for his turn at an EOIR Immigration Court hearing.
The only reason that Section 235(b) is being grudgingly implemented as of late in tiny pieces – now nine years after the fact – is that the Bush Administration is starting to feel public pressure to "do something" about illegal immigration.
God bless the Minutemen!
The bottom line: summary deportation, not federal litigation is the key to actually physically removing foreign nationals who have no legal immigration status in this country. It's the Holy Grail of immigration law enforcement.
Unfortunately even Section 235(b) has its own built-in loophole to allow illegal aliens to remain in the country and gain all of the benefits of the EOIR Immigration Court system anyhow.
The EOIR's own statistics prove that the "credible fear" interview process is literally nothing but a DHS Get Out Of Jail Free card. A ludicrous 93 to 99 percent of all aliens claiming a "credible fear" were granted the chance to avoid summary removal, get released from immigration custody to simply disappear, or remain in the United States for years of EOIR Immigration Court hearings and federal court appeals.
So keep your eyes peeled for more DHS deceptions and half-truths about expedited removal. There's sure to be more to come.