Airport Deportation

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Understanding the Immigration Enforcement Process and Your Rights

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) can detain foreign nationals entering the US, including nonimmigrant visa holders and permanent residents. As a result, hundreds of foreign nationals are subjected to airport detention every day.

A non-citizen could, for instance, be arrested if CBP discovers a criminal conviction that prohibits entry to the United States. Upon arrival, the person could be detained at the airport while the government determines if they will be subjected to the deportation process. Depending on the circumstances, the detained individual can either be immediately sent on a deportation flight or detained until a final order from an immigration judge is issued.

If you find yourself in this situation, contact Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law. Our immigration lawyers can help protect and uphold your rights. Our vast experience in immigration law has helped thousands of clients at risk of deportation.

What Is Airport Deportation?

Deportation is the formal removal of a non-citizen due to a violation of immigration laws. An immigrant is at risk of being deported at the airport when they have violated airport rules and regulations or failed to meet the entry requirements or conditions.

In general, immigration laws and removal procedures are based on federal law. However, in Texas, the governor recently signed one of the strictest state immigration laws in US history. The SB4 law authorizes state officials to arrest and request deportation of migrants alleged of illegally crossing the Mexico border. It is expected to take effect in March 2024.

Reasons for Airport Deportation

Anyone who possesses a green card or nonimmigrant visa has the right to enter the US. However, certain laws and regulations need to be followed. Failing to do so could result in removal. Some of the reasons for airport detention and deportation include:

  • The person has an incorrect visa;

  • The person committed a serious crime outside the United States;

  • The person has abandoned their permanent resident status;

  • The person arrives without a visa or an application for asylum;

  • The person has been deported from the United States recently;

  • The person entered the United States illegally.

In 2021, the Biden Administration issued a memo that instructed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)to limit deportations to those who are a threat to national security or have committed serious crimes. Texas and Louisiana challenged the directive in court. In 2023, the US Supreme Court finally ruled that the directive to limit ICE’s enforcement was a valid exercise of the executive’s power.

The Deportation Process at Airports

During the deportation process, you may be held in a detention center before a removal hearing. For the removal hearing, you will be brought before a judge in immigration court and have the opportunity to present your defenses and reasons why you should not be deported.

You may also be subjected to expedited removal without attending a hearing in immigration court. Expedited removal is possible when a non-citizen:

  • Enters the country without the correct travel documents;

  • Submits forged travel documents;

  • Fails to comply with visa or other documentary requirements.

ICE monitors compliance with immigration laws. They will issue a Notice to Appear (NTA) once you are accused of violating the law. The NTA must indicate the reasons why you were given such notice. It also starts the deportation process.

Knowing Your Rights if Deported by Air

Undocumented immigrants are entitled to some rights once they enter the United States. However, these rights are limited and fragile. These include:

  • The right to remain silent: You are not required to disclose your citizenship or immigration status with any official. Anything you say can be used against you in immigration court. However, non-citizens must show immigration papers if the official tells them to do so. You can also tell them you want to consult a lawyer before answering any questions.

  • The right to say no when an immigration official wants to search you: Agents cannot search you or your belongings without probable cause or consent.

  • The right to be released on bond: You may be released on bond or other reporting conditions while the immigration case is ongoing.

  • The right to a hearing: You can challenge a deportation order before the immigration court.

You may also be granted the right to a voluntary departure or repatriation flight to return to your country of origin.

Legal Protections Against Unlawful Deportation

There are some instances when the ICE or immigration officers make a mistake in their accusations. This may be considered unlawful deportation.

A person can still be readmitted despite being wrongfully deported. Unfortunately, the process of proving this can be complicated even for citizens.

A person wrongfully subjected to ICE detention or placed in ICE custody unlawfully may file a civil action for damages against the US government. The Department of Homeland Security protects civil rights, immigrant rights, and civil liberties.

Bivens Claim

As a general rule, the federal government cannot be sued. However, individual officers or agents may not have the same immunity if they violate a person’s constitutional rights. These rights are covered in the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable seizure and rights to equal protection and due process.

Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA)

The FTCA is applicable when a person suffers from injury or other damages due to unlawful deportation. The claim must be filed within two years from the date of the incident.

The court usually does not permit recovery under both FTCA and Bivens unless the injuries are wholly separate.

Protect Yourself From Wrongful Deportation

The US Department of Homeland Security has a duty to minimize, if not totally eliminate, security risks, safety risks, and other risk factors in customs and immigration. As part of immigration and customs enforcement, ICE may deport immigrants and non-citizens upon entry to the US or during their stay. However, there are times when ICE makes mistakes, arrests the wrong people, or baselessly sends them on deportation flights.

Being arrested at the airport can be nerve-wracking, but staying calm is crucial. Just because you are arrested does not mean you will be deported.

Talking to an experienced Texas immigration lawyer should be the first thing you do upon being arrested at the airport. In many cases, you have the right to attend a hearing in front of an immigration court. In some cases, you will be qualified for a waiver and be able to stay in the US.

How Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law Can Help

Anyone at risk of removal proceedings or who has received a removal order has the right to seek legal assistance. The Andrew T. Thomas legal team is here to guide you through the process and fight for you.

Our team is experienced in several fields of practice: deportation, family-based petitions, immigration appeals, and bonds. Schedule a free consultation with us today!