The Rise of Speed Deportation and the Role of Discretion

Wadhia, Shoba Sivaprasad

In 2013, the majority of people deported never saw a courtroom or immigration judge. Instead, they were quickly removed by the Department of Homeland Security via one of several procedures collectively referred to as “speed deportation.” The policy goals of speed deportation are economic; these processes save government resources from being spent on procedural safeguards such as a trial attorney, immigration judge, and a fundamentally fair hearing. Higher deportation numbers may also benefit the image the government seeks to portray to policymakers who support amplified immigration enforcement. However, the human consequences of speed deportation are significant and can result in the ejection of people who would otherwise qualify for relief before an immigration judge or otherwise present strong equities like family ties, long-term residence, and steady employment in the United States. Moreover, the risk that the government may wrongly classify a person as a candidate for speed deportation is more than a remote possibility. This Article examines deportations resulting from the expedited removal, administrative removal, and reinstatement of removal orders programs and the extent to which the government has discretion to give individuals who present compelling equities, including eligibility for relief, a more complete court proceeding before an immigration judge. This Article ends with recommendations the Department of Homeland Security can take to provide a "day in court" for such individuals.


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Columbia Journal of Race and Law

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March 13, 2015