Monday, March 2, 2009

Stipulated Removal -- Fast Track Deportation

Immigration agencies have long had a tool in the deportation process to facilitate quick removal from the country and return of the immigrant to his native land. It's called "stipulated removal" by ICE and it's being used more frequently for economic reasons and to clear the crush in immigration court. It works this way -- theoretically: An undocumented immigrant taken into custody by ICE is given a choice to go into detention and wait an appearance in immigration court or agree to quick removal to his native country and so shorten time in detention. The method usually comes with assurance that the immigrant has not chance in court. ICE argues that these decisions are voluntary and the options are clearly explained to the immigrant.

Immigrant advocates challenge the practice in fear that the immigrant will too easily surrender rights under deceptive pressure. Most stipulated removals happen in the border states and have increased dramatically since 2004. A detention center at Lancaster, CA, deports as many as 95% of immigrants without access to attorneys -- about 130 a month or a third of all detainees. Now there is some question whether the practice alleviates the crush in immigration court. Judges still have to check the papers and the caseload increases with the ICE stepped-up raids. (See Los Angeles Times article.)

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