- 1997/Inspection and Expedited Removal of Aliens; Detention and Removal of Aliens; Conduct of Removal Proceedings; Asylum Procedures [62 FR 444] [FR 5-97] (1 of 9)">

     An expedited removal order entered against an alien by an immigration officer at the time of arrival or by an asylum officer following a determination that the alien does not have a credible fear of persecution is not subject to administrative appeal, but may be reviewed by an immigration judge upon request of the alien. An exception is provided in section 235(b)(1)(C) of the Act for an alien who claims under oath or under penalty of perjury to be a lawful permanent resident, to have been admitted as a refugee under section 207 of the Act, or to have been granted asylum under section 208 of the Act.

     Before entering an expedited removal order against these aliens, the Service will attempt to verify the alien's claim to lawful permanent resident, refugee, or asylee status. If a claim to lawful permanent resident status is verified, the examining officer will determine whether the alien is considered an applicant for admission within the meaning of section 101(a)(13) of the Act. Section 301(a) of IIRIRA amended section 101(a)(13) of the Act to provide that an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence is not seeking admission unless the alien has abandoned or relinquished that status, has been absent for a continuous period in excess of 180 days, has engaged in illegal activity after having departed the United States, has departed while under legal process seeking removal, has committed certain criminal offenses, or is attempting to enter at a time or place other than as designated or has not been inspected and admitted to the United States. If the verified lawful permanent resident is determined to be an applicant for admission, the officer may consider appropriate discretionary waivers, if applicable, such as a waiver of documents under section 211(b) or other administrative options.

     Current regulations do not provide for a waiver of documents or similar options for refugees and asylees who seek to reenter the United States without a refugee travel document. The regulations at 223.2(b)(2) require that an application for a refugee travel document be filed before a refugee or asylee departs from the United States. The regulations also require at 223.1(b) that a refugee or asylee must have a refugee travel document to return to the United States after temporary travel abroad unless he or she is in possession of a valid advance parole document. The combination of these two provisions has resulted in a few refugees and asylees (who had no intention of abandoning their status in the United States at the time of their departure) not being able to be readmitted in such status. With the advent of the expedited removal provisions, including the procedure for a review by an immigration judge of a claim to refugee or asylee status, the need for a formal process for dealing with such individuals has become more critical. The Service proposes to address the problem by giving district directors the discretionary authority to accept an application for a refugee travel document from an alien who is outside the United States, provided that alien: (1) held bonafide refugee or asylee status in the United States at the time of his or her departure from the United States, (2) did not intend to abandon such refugee or asylee status, (3) did nothing while outside the United States which would be inconsistent with refugee or asylee status, (4) has been outside the United States for less than one year (the maximum period of time for which the refugee travel document can be issued), and (5) files the requisite Form I-131, Application for a Travel Document, with the appropriate fee. Upon the filing and approval of such application, the alien may be readmitted to the United States as if he or she were in possession of a valid refugee travel document, provided the alien is otherwise admissible.

     If the immigration officer determines that an alien verified to have once held the status of a lawful permanent resident, refugee, or asylee does not merit a waiver, the officer will not issue an expedited removal order; rather, the officer may place the alien in removal proceedings under section 240 of the Act. Section 235(b)(1)(C) of the Act does not specify what should occur if an alien actually establishes to the satisfaction of an inspecting officer or an immigration judge that he or she is a lawful permanent resident, refugee, or asylee. However, section 242(e)(4) of the amended Act provides that if an alien appealing an expedited removal order to Federal district court establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she is a lawful permanent resident, has been admitted as a refugee, or has been granted asylum, then the district court may order that the alien be provided a hearing under section 240 of the Act. In light of these judicial review provisions that would result in such aliens receiving a regular removal proceeding under section 240 of the Act, the Department considers a referral into section 240 removal proceedings upon verification of such status by an immigration officer or demonstration of such status to an immigration judge to be the most practical and efficient implementation of these provisions.

     In cases where the alien's claim to lawful permanent resident, refugee, or asylee status cannot be verified, the immigration officer or the asylum officer will order the alien removed under section 235(b)(1)(A)(i) of the Act or for a credible fear determination under section 235(b)(1)(B)(iii), and then refer the alien to an immigration judge for review of the order. If the judge determines that the alien is not a lawful permanent resident, has not been admitted as a refugee, or has not been granted asylum under section 208 of the Act, the order issued by the examining immigration officer or asylum officer will be effected and the alien will be removed from the United States under that order. No further review is available. If the judge determines that the alien was once admitted and/or currently is a lawful permanent resident, refugee, or asylee, the order will be canceled and proceedings under section 235(b)(1) of the Act will be terminated. The Service may then admit the alien or pursue any other grounds of inadmissibility or deportability under section 212 or 237 of the Act in a removal proceeding pursuant to section 240 of the Act, if appropriate. 


Revision of Asylum Procedures

     The regulation proposes to amend 8 CFR part 208 to create new procedures for the consideration of asylum applications as mandated by section 604 of IIRIRA, to make certain other changes which are not mandated by IIRIRA, but that will significantly improve the asylum process, and to streamline the existing regulations in accordance with the principles discussed elsewhere in the supplementary information.

     Of special significance are the provisions in the regulation providing the immigration judges with exclusive jurisdiction over certain categories of asylum applications, including those filed by alien crewmen, stowaways who establish a credible fear of persecution, aliens covered by the Visa Waiver Pilot Program, aliens subject to removal under section 235(c) of the Act, and aliens who have applied for or received an "S" visa. Under the current regulations, some of these classes of aliens (stowaways, crewmen, and aliens removable under section 235(c) of the Act) receive only an interview with an asylum officer which is reviewed directly by the Board. However, some problems have arisen with these procedures, most significantly, the difficulty of generating a reliable and complete record and the absence of a government-provided interpreter in asylum officer interviews. The Department believes that giving the immigration judges exclusive jurisdiction over such determinations will rectify these problems while still maintaining the high quality and consistency of the interview and decision-making process which the public has come to expect.

     The proposed rule's treatment of section 208(a)(2) of the Act, which establishes a number of new grounds barring an alien from applying for asylum, is equally important. Regarding section 208(a)(2)(C) of the Act, which bars an alien from applying for asylum if the alien had a previous asylum application denied, the rule makes clear that this provision applies only to asylum applications that have been denied by an immigration judge or the Board. This ensures that aliens who received a denial of their application from an asylum officer because they applied for asylum while in valid status or under procedures in place prior to January 1995 receive consideration of their application by an immigration judge. The rule also interprets the terms "changed circumstances" and "extraordinary circumstances" in section 208(a)(2)(D) of the Act as those terms apply to the 1-year bar in section 208(a)(2)(B) of the Act. The regulation provides minimal guidance on the meaning of the term "changed circumstances." Nevertheless, because of the novelty of the "extraordinary circumstances" exception to the 1-year bar, the rule offers a regulatory interpretation of this term. While the Department considered having the regulation identify specific examples of extraordinary circumstances that would justify a waiver of the one-year filing requirement, the proposed rule opts in favor of a provision that generally defines the term as events or factors beyond the alien's control that caused the failure to meet the one-year deadline. The regulation also provides that the alien file the application as soon as practicable under those circumstances. Thus, an event or factor of relatively brief duration would be insufficient to excuse the filing of an application long after the deadline. In our view, such a general definition provides guidance to decision makers while offering more flexibility than a definition by example would. Nevertheless, we can imagine several examples that would likely satisfy this definition: the applicant suffered a physical or mental disability that prevented a timely filing; the applicant was under a legal disability (e.g., an unaccompanied minor) during the one-year period; or the applicant received ineffective assistance of counsel, as that concept has been interpreted by the Board of Immigration Appeals, resulting in a failure to file a timely application. Nevertheless, because of both the novelty and importance of these new provisions, the Department welcomes suggestions from the public on how best to implement them.

     The proposed rulemaking also offers guidance on how to apply section 208(d)(6) of the Act, which provides that an alien who knowingly makes a frivolous asylum application shall be permanently ineligible for any benefits under the Act. At 208.18, the rule first provides that such determinations may only be made in a final order by an immigration judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals. The rule also defines an application as "frivolous" if it is fabricated or brought for an improper purpose. In doing so, the Department is carrying out one of the central principles of the asylum reform process begun in 1993: to discourage applicants from making patently false claims.

     It should be noted that the proposed rule does not discuss 208.19 dealing with the admission of the spouse and children of an alien granted asylum status. This topic was the subject of a separate proposed rule published July 9, 1996. See 61 FR 35,984 (1996). That separate rulemaking will be incorporated into the overall asylum regulations once it is finalized. 


Credible Fear Determinations and Claims of Asylum or Fear of Persecution by Alien Subject to Expedited Removal

     Under the new section 235(b)(1)(A)(ii) of the Act, an alien subject to expedited removal who indicates an intention to apply for asylum or who expresses a fear of persecution will be referred to an asylum officer to determine if the alien has a credible fear of persecution. Credible fear of persecution is defined in section 302(a) of IIRIRA to mean that "there is a significant possibility, taking into account the credibility of the statements made by the alien in support of the alien's claim and such other facts as are known to the officer, that the alien could establish eligibility for asylum under section 208."

     Interviews to determine whether an alien has a credible fear of persecution will be conducted by an asylum officer, either at the port-of-entry or at designated locations such as detention centers. For purposes of this credible fear interview, an asylum officer is defined in the Act as an immigration officer who has had professional training in country conditions, asylum law, and interview techniques comparable to that provided to full-time adjudicators of applications under section 208, and is supervised by an officer who meets the same criteria and who has had substantial experience adjudicating asylum applications. This definition may include officers other than full-time asylum officers, provided they have undergone the necessary training and have the requisite supervision, but the Service will generally attempt to assign full-time asylum officers to the task of determining credible fear. Prior to the interview, the alien may consult with a person or persons of his or her own choosing at no cost to the Government, provided it does not unreasonably delay the process.

     The asylum officer will make a determination whether the alien has a credible fear of persecution. Service procedures will require that the determination be reviewed by a supervisory asylum officer. The supervisory asylum officer may direct the asylum officer to interview the applicant further, or to research country conditions or other matters relevant to the decision. If the supervisory asylum officer agrees that the alien has not demonstrated a credible fear of persecution, the alien will be ordered removed under the provisions of section 235(b)(1)(B)(iii)(I) of the Act. If the alien requests review of the determination that he or she has not demonstrated a credible fear of persecution, the credible fear determination will be promptly reviewed by an immigration judge. The alien will have the opportunity to be heard and questioned by the immigration judge. This review will be limited solely to the issue of credible fear, and may be conducted either in person or by telephonic or video connection. By statute, the review should be conducted as soon as possible following the credible fear determination, preferably within 24 hours, and no later than seven days after the date of determination. The alien will be detained during this review period, and if found by the immigration judge not to have a credible fear, will be promptly removed.

     Section 235(b)(1)(B)(ii) of the Act provides that aliens who are determined by an asylum officer to have a credible fear of persecution will be detained for further consideration of the asylum claim. While the statute does not specify how or by whom this further consideration should be conducted, the proposed rule provides for such consideration by an immigration judge in removal proceedings conducted pursuant to section 240 of the Act. In the removal hearing, the immigration judge will make a determination whether the alien is eligible for asylum under section 208 of the Act or for withholding of removal under section 241(b)(3) of the Act. The removal order will be subject to administrative review by the Board in accordance with section 240 of the Act and 3.1(b)(3).

     Credible fear determinations are also made in the case of stowaways. Although not entitled to removal proceedings under section 240 of the Act, a stowaway who has been determined by an asylum officer (or by an immigration judge upon review of a negative determination by an asylum officer) to have a credible fear of persecution may file an asylum application to be adjudicated by an immigration judge in asylum-only proceedings. There is no appeal from the decision of an immigration judge as to whether the stowaway has a credible fear of persecution. A stowaway who is found not to have a credible fear will be expeditiously removed. However, a stowaway who meets the credible fear threshold and is allowed to present an asylum or withholding of removal application in a proceeding before an immigration judge may appeal the resulting decision to the BIA. 


Proposed Changes Not Mandated by IIRIRA

     The rulemaking also proposes to remove 208.13(b)(2)(ii) and 208.16(b)(4) which require that adjudicators give "due consideration to evidence that the government of the applicant's country of nationality or last habitual residence persecutes its nationals or residents if they leave the country without authorization or seek asylum in another country." These regulations accomplish little and are potentially misleading in their current form. The term "due consideration" provides little guidance. Moreover, the question of whether punishment for a migration-related offense is "persecution" hinges on an evaluation of the circumstances of each case. Under current law, prosecution for migration-related offenses does not ordinarily amount to persecution. Since the provision does not offer any assistance in adjudicating claims involving prosecution for unauthorized departure, we propose removing it from the regulations.

     The rule provides a special regulation to govern the application of section 243(h)(3) of the Act, a provision added by section 413(f) of AEDPA that was eliminated by section 307 of IIRIRA. That section provided that, notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Attorney General could grant an alien withholding of deportation if she determined that it was necessary to do so to ensure compliance with the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. In new section 241(b)(3)(B) of the Act, the only change Congress made to the existing bars to withholding of deportation was to require, in the case of an alien convicted of an aggravated felony (or felonies), that the alien receive an aggregate term of imprisonment of at least 5 years before such crime or crimes are automatically considered to be particularly serious. We understand this change to reflect Congress' conclusion that the bars to withholding of deportation or removal are consistent with the United States' obligations under the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, except potentially in the case of an aggravated felon who receives less than a 5-year aggregate sentence. The Department proposes a regulatory interpretation of section 243(h)(3) that is consistent with this most recently expressed view of the Congress. Thus, the rule provides that an alien may attempt to obtain relief under section 243(h)(3) of the Act only if he or she is an aggravated felon who received an aggregate sentence of less than 5 years and can establish that the crime or crimes of which he or she has been convicted are not particularly serious. This will require a case-by-case determination whether the crime or crimes committed by the alien are particularly serious. Only if the crime is determined not to be particularly serious will the alien be entitled to have his or her withholding of deportation claim considered. Because section 243(h)(3) of the Act was eliminated by IIRIRA, this rule applies only to applications for withholding made in proceedings commenced prior to April 1, 1997, so long as a final action on any such withholding request was not taken prior to April 24, 1996, the date of AEDPA's passage. 


Establishment of a Fee for Filing an Application for Asylum

     This rulemaking does not propose to establish a fee for filing an application for asylum or to expand the situations under which fees may be charged for asylum-based applications for work authorization, despite the statutory permission to do so contained in section 208(d)(3) of the Act. Should the Department decide to do so at a later date, that action would be part of a separate rulemaking. 


Employment Authorization for Asylum Applicants

     The proposed regulations will continue to allow asylum applicants to apply for an employment authorization document (EAD) once the asylum application has been pending for 150 days, which is 30 days before the new statutorily-mandated minimum time for granting such authorization contained in section 208(d)(2) of the Act. 


Rules of Procedure for Executive Office for Immigration Review

     Implementation of IIRIRA will impact the rules of procedure for proceedings before the Executive Office for Immigration Review. These proposed rules amend the regulations to expand the scope of the rules of procedure to include new removal proceedings in provisions regarding motions to reopen and reconsider, jurisdiction and commencement of proceedings, stipulated requests for orders, in absentia hearings, public access to hearings, and additional charges. The proposed rules also add provisions regarding the scheduling of removal cases, custody and bond in removal proceedings, and contents of the Notice to Appear form. 


Subpoenas by Immigration Judges 


     Section 304 of IIRIRA bestows upon immigration judges the statutory authority to issue subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses and presentation of evidence in removal proceedings. This subpoena power had previously been granted to immigration judges by regulation only and the immigration judges had to enlist the district director to invoke the aid of the district court for failure to comply with the subpoena. The proposed rule amends the subpoena provisions to provide that an immigration judge directly invokes the aid of the district court for an order requiring the compliance with a subpoena instead of requiring the district director to take such action. 


New Removal Proceedings

     Section 240 of the Act as amended by section 304(a) of IIRIRA merges the separate proceedings of exclusion and deportation into one removal proceeding. In this single proceeding, the immigration judge will determine whether an alien is inadmissible under section 212 of the Act or deportable under section 237 (formerly section 241) of the Act. In light of these statutory changes, individuals in removal proceedings are referred to in the proposed rule as determined to be removable or ordered removed after being found to be either inadmissible or deportable (but no longer will be referred to as excludable or excluded). Removal proceedings will in nearly all respects resemble present day deportation or exclusion proceedings, with some minor differences outlined below and implemented by this proposed rule.

     Although not as a result of any provision of IIRIRA, the Department is soliciting public comments on whether these regulations should include a provision for appointment of a guardian ad litem in a case where a minor or incompetent respondent in removal proceedings is otherwise unrepresented. 


Applicability of New Removal Provisions

     The IIRIRA provides that the newly created removal procedures and the new and amended forms of relief available in removal proceedings which appear in title III-A of IIRIRA will apply to all individuals placed into removal proceedings on or after April 1, 1997, and will not affect individuals who were in deportation or exclusion proceedings prior to April 1, 1997. See Section 309(a) of IIRIRA. For this reason, the proposed rule preserves the former regulations relating to deportation and exclusion proceedings for those individuals who will continue on in such proceedings after April 1, 1997. The proposed rule preserves such provisions by retaining current regulatory provisions previously contained in 8 CFR parts 236, 242, and 244 within separate new subparts of part 240. In addition, sections formerly contained in parts 237 and 243 have been retained in new subparts of part 241. A more detailed description of the entire reorganization of effected parts of title 8 is contained later in this supplementary information.  


The Notice to Appear (Form I-862)

     The charging document which commences removal proceedings under section 240 of the Act will be referred to as the Notice to Appear, Form I-862, replacing the Order to Show Cause, Form I-221, that was used to commence deportation proceedings and the Notice to Detained Applicant of Hearing Before an Immigration Judge, Form I-110. The Notice to Appear must contain nearly all of the information that was required to be in the Form I-221. The regulations reflect the fact that section 304 of IIRIRA did not retain the requirement that the Notice to Appear be provided in Spanish; that the mandatory period between service of a Notice to Appear and the date of an individual's first hearing is 10 days rather than the 14 days required for the Order to Show Cause; that service of the Notice to Appear by ordinary mail, rather than certified mail, is sufficient if there is proof of attempted delivery to the last address provided by the alien and noted in the Central Address File; and that no written notice need be provided if the alien has failed to provide his or her address as required under the amended Act.

     In addition, the proposed rule implements the language of the amended Act indicating that the time and place of the hearing must be on the Notice to Appear. The Department will attempt to implement this requirement as fully as possible by April 1, 1997. Language has been used in this part of the proposed rule recognizing that such automated scheduling will not be possible in every situation (e.g., power outages, computer crashes/downtime.)  


Burdens of Proof in Removal Proceedings

     The proposed regulation restates the burden of proof language in section 240(c) of the Act as revised by section 304(a) of IIRIRA. In removal proceedings in which an alien is charged with deportability, the Service must establish deportability by clear and convincing evidence. This replaces the clear, convincing, and unequivocal standard set forth in Woodby v. INS, 385 U.S. 276 (1966). An applicant for admission to the United States must establish that he or she is clearly and beyond a doubt entitled to be admitted and is not inadmissible. In the case of an alien present in the United States without being admitted or paroled, once the Service establishes alienage, the alien must prove that he or she is clearly and beyond a doubt entitled to be admitted and is not inadmissible, unless the alien proves by clear and convincing evidence that he or she is lawfully present pursuant to a prior admission.  


Cancellation of Removal

     The proposed rule provides for the application by qualified individuals in removal proceedings for the new form of relief created by section 304(a) of IIRIRA: cancellation of removal. Cancellation of removal comes in two forms. The first form, available to lawful permanent residents, is similar to relief under section 212(c) of the pre-IIRIRA Act, except that only 5 years of the required 7 years of residence to statutorily qualify for this form of cancellation of removal need be fulfilled as a lawful permanent resident. This means that up to 2 years of the 7 years can be satisfied with temporary residence. This provision codifies the interpretation by a number of Federal circuit courts that a period of temporary residence counts toward the 7-year residency requirement for relief under section 212(c) of the pre-IIRIRA Act.

     The second form of cancellation of removal resembles suspension of deportation under section 244 of the pre-IIRIRA Act, except that an applicant for the second form of cancellation of removal must demonstrate continuous physical presence for 10 years instead of 7 years, and must show "exceptional and extremely unusual hardship" instead of "extreme hardship." Further, unlike suspension of deportation, this form of cancellation of removal is not available for aliens who can only show hardship to themselves. The proposed rule also implements the availability of this second form of cancellation of removal to a battered spouse or child who can demonstrate 3 years of continuous physical presence in the United States and who shows that removal would result in "extreme hardship" to the battered spouse, his or her child, or the battered child's parent.  


Administrative Motions to Reopen and Reconsider Removal Proceedings

     Section 304(a) of IIRIRA added a number of motions procedures to the Act regarding the reopening or reconsideration of a final order of removal. For the most part, these new statutory provisions encompass the new procedures implemented by EOIR's new motions and appeals regulation, which took effect on July 1, 1996. However, the statute does place the time and number restrictions for motions specifically on the alien. The proposed rule implements this change by adding a provision to indicate that in removal proceedings, the restrictions only apply to the alien and not to the Service. In addition, unlike the pre-IIRIRA regulations excepting motions to reopen exclusion or deportation orders rendered in absentia from both the 90-day and 1-motion restrictions, the statute only excepts motions to reopen removal orders rendered in absentia from the 90-day time period and not the numerical restriction. The proposed rule implements this change as well.

Proceedings To Review Asylum Claims by Certain Aliens Not Eligible for Section 240 Proceedings

     This rule establishes a new Notice of Referral to Immigration Judge, Form I-863, to be used to institute limited proceedings before an immigration judge. This referral form will be used by immigration officers to initiate review by an immigration judge for asylum or withholding of removal claims by Visa Waiver Pilot Program (VWPP) refusal cases and VWPP status violators, crew members, aliens ordered removed pursuant to section 235(c) of the Act, aliens present pursuant to section 101(a)(15)(S) of the Act, and alien stowaways found to have a credible fear of persecution. This proceeding is limited solely to the asylum or withholding claim and no other forms of relief may be presented by the alien or considered by the immigration judge.

     Asylum officers will also use the Notice of Referral for expedited removal cases where the alien seeks review of a "no credible fear" finding by the asylum officer in section 235(b)(1) proceedings or for stowaways, prior to the execution of the expedited removal order or removal of the stowaway.

     In addition, the Notice of Referral will be used to institute an immigration judge review of expedited removal orders issued against aliens claiming to be lawful permanent residents, refugees or asylees. In such cases, the immigration judge will review the expedited removal order, which may either be affirmed or canceled.

     Existing regulations regarding deportable VWPP aliens who claim asylum state that the alien will be referred for a determination of deportability. The current regulations for VWPP applicants arriving at ports-of-entry are vague, stating only that the alien will be referred to an immigration judge for further inquiry. The proposed change will clarify that VWPP applicants and status violators are to be provided a hearing and appeal on the asylum and withholding claim only.

     Existing regulations provide that a crewman, stowaway, or alien temporarily excluded under section 235(c) of the Act file an application for asylum with the district director and that the district director forward it to an asylum officer for adjudication. The Attorney General has determined that these claims should be adjudicated by an immigration judge. This determination to adjudicate the asylum claims for these classes of aliens in a proceeding before an immigration judge is in response to recent case law holding that stowaway asylum applicants must be afforded the same asylum procedures deemed necessary for other aliens. In Marincas v. Lewis, 92 F.3d 195, 200-201 (3rd Cir. 1996), the court held that the plain language of the Refugee Act left no room to construe the statute to permit differing asylum procedures for stowaways. Although the Department with that holding, the Attorney General has found that providing a proceeding before an immigration judge to hear the asylum claim will address the concerns raised in Mirancas, while remaining consistent with the statutory directives to limit due process for these classes of aliens. As required by IIRIRA, a stowaway will receive a credible fear determination by an asylum officer prior to the referral to an immigration judge. 


Reorganization of Certain Regulatory Sections

     The IIRIRA substantially revised sections of the Act relating to the arrest of aliens suspected of inadmissibility to or unlawful presence in the United States, detention of such aliens prior to and during removal proceedings, the conduct of removal proceedings, and ancillary issues such as voluntary departure and available forms of relief. The Service and EOIR have jointly undertaken a complete revision of the affected parts of title 8, to bring the relevant regulatory parts into alignment with the new sections of the Act. The newly revised sections are organized in the following manner: 8 CFR part 236, Subpart A--Detention of aliens prior to order of removal, Subpart B--Family Unity Program; 8 CFR part 238--Expeditious removal of aggravated felons; 8 CFR part 239--Initiation of removal proceedings; 8 CFR part 240, Subpart A--Removal proceedings, Subpart B--Cancellation of removal, Subpart C--Voluntary departure, Subpart D--Exclusion of aliens (for proceedings commenced prior to April 1, 1997); Subpart E--Proceedings to determine deportability of aliens in the United States: Hearing and Appeal (commenced prior to April 1, 1997); Subpart F--Suspension of deportation and voluntary departure (for proceedings commenced prior to April 1, 1997); Subpart G--Civil penalties for failure to depart; 8 CFR part 241, Subpart A--Post-hearing detention and removal, Subpart B--Deportation of Excluded Aliens (for hearings commenced prior to April 1, 1997), Subpart C--Deportation of Aliens in the United States (for hearings commenced prior to April 1, 1997); 8 CFR parts 237, 242, and 243 have been removed and reserved; 8 CFR part 244 will now contain regulations pertaining to the Temporary Protected Status program.

     Sections of the old regulations which are still applicable to proceedings commenced prior to April 1, 1997, have been retained, but moved to new parts of the regulations as separate subparts according to topic. For example, the regulations relating to the conduct of proceedings, formerly contained in 8 CFR part 242, have been moved to 8 CFR part 240, which contains regulations for the conduct of removal proceedings.

     Most sections of the regulations have not been retained in this manner. They have been totally revised, in conformity with the new statute. In some instances, these regulations distinguish between situations involving aliens "grandfathered" under former statutory authority and those encompassed by the provisions of IIRIRA. For example, new 252.2(b) contains separate provisions for alien crewmen who arrived prior to April 1, 1997, and those who arrive after that date.

     Because the Service and EOIR have concerns about the serious restructuring of these regulations, the public is invited to comment on the approach taken by this rulemaking. In particular, the Service wishes to solicit comments concerning any possible unintended consequences of the restructuring, such as the inclusion of new sections which encompass aliens entitled to consideration under "old" provisions.

Apprehension, Custody, and Detention of Aliens 


     This rule incorporates the changes made to section 242 of the Act by section 440(c) of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), Public Law 104-132 as well as section 303(a) of the IIRIRA. By enactment of AEDPA, Congress altered the provisions created by section 504 of the Immigration Act of 1990 (IMMACT), Public Law 101-649, enacted November 29, 1990, relating to release of lawfully admitted aliens who had been convicted of aggravated felonies. The AEDPA directed the Attorney General to detain aliens convicted of aggravated felonies without bond and extended the mandatory detention provisions to aliens deportable for conviction of certain other felonies. The IIRIRA extended the mandatory detention provisions to additional classes of inadmissible and deportable aliens but provided an exception for certain witnesses. It also allowed the Attorney General the option of a transition period for implementation of mandatory detention. The INS exercised this discretion and implemented the transition period custody rules on October 9, 1996, effective for 1 year. The Act is very clear as to which aliens may be released. This rule proposes to amend the Service's regulations to comply with the amended Act by removing the release from custody provisions for aliens who may no longer be released. These amendments to the regulations will take effect upon the termination of the transition period. As for non-criminal aliens, the rule reflects the new $1,500 minimum bond amount specified by IIRIRA. Otherwise, the proposed rule essentially preserves the status quo for bond determination by the Service and bond redetermination proceedings before immigration judges. Despite being applicants for admission, aliens who are present without having been admitted (formerly referred to as aliens entering without inspection) will be eligible for bond and bond redetermination. 


Expedited Deportation Procedures for Aliens Convicted of Aggravated Felonies Who Are Not Lawful Permanent Residents 


     This rule incorporates the changes made to section 242A(b) of the Act by section 442 of the AEDPA and section 304(c) of the IIRIRA. By enactment of the AEDPA, Congress made several changes to the expedited administrative deportation procedure authorized under section 130004 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, Public Law 103-322. Some of these changes were modified by the IIRIRA and one was eliminated. This rule proposes to amend the Service's regulations to comply with the amended Act as follows: aliens who have lawful permanent residence on a conditional basis under section 216 of the Act are subject to expedited administrative deportation procedures and have been included in the regulation. Since section 238(b)(5) of the Act states that an alien subject to these proceedings is ineligible for any relief from removal, all references to prima facie eligibility for relief and to relief from deportation have been removed. This revision also eliminates references to release from custody, since aliens subject to these proceedings are now statutorily ineligible for release as a result of changes to other sections of the Act. 


Voluntary Departure

     The proposed rule outlines how voluntary departure will be handled at various stages of proceedings. Prior to the initiation of proceedings, the Service has sole jurisdiction to grant voluntary departure for a period not to exceed 120 days. The Service may impose any conditions it deems necessary to ensure the alien's timely departure from the United States, including the posting of a bond, continued detention pending departure and removal under safeguards. After proceedings have been commenced and at any time up to 30 days subsequent to the master calendar, the immigration judge may grant voluntary departure for a period not to exceed 120 days. In each instance, the alien will be required to present to the Service travel documents sufficient to assure lawful entry into the country to which the alien is departing, unless such document is not necessary for the alien's return. 


     An alien may be granted voluntary departure at the conclusion of proceedings if the immigration judge finds that the alien meets the conditions of section 240B(b) of the Act. The judge may impose such conditions as he or she deems necessary to ensure the alien's timely departure from the United States, but in all cases, the alien shall be required, within 5 days of the order, to post a voluntary departure bond of no less than $500. In order for the bond to be canceled, the alien must provide proof of departure to the district director. If the alien fails to depart, or to meet any of the conditions attached to the grant of voluntary departure, such order will vacate and the alternate order of deportation will stand.

     Section 304(a) of IIRIRA makes significant changes to both the nature and duration of voluntary departure. Under the new law, voluntary departure is clearly meant to be granted to aliens illegally in the United States who are able and willing to depart in a relatively short period of time. It will no longer be available to those who are seeking to significantly extend their time in the United States for other reasons. In fact, the time periods which will be allowed for voluntary departure are such that they meet or exceed the normal processing time for applications for employment authorization. In light of these changes, the Department is eliminating the provisions currently contained in 8 CFR parts 242 and 274a which permit the granting of work authorization to aliens who have been given voluntary departure.

     New section 240B of the Act and the corresponding proposed regulations represent a significant departure from the predecessor provisions for voluntary departure. Public comments regarding the Department's approach to implementation of this provision will be particularly welcome. 


Reinstatement of Removal Orders Against Aliens Illegally Reentering

     Section 241(b)(5) of the Act requires the Attorney General to reinstate the removal order for an alien who illegally reenters the United States after having been removed or after having departed voluntarily under a removal order. Removal would be accomplished under the proposed rule without referral to an Immigration Court. Although the Act previously contained a provision for reinstatement of a final order of deportation, the accompanying regulation required the issuance of an order to show cause and a hearing before an immigration judge. This resulted in limited use of the provision. The proposed rule provides a procedure for a district director to reinstate a final order upon establishing identity and unlawful reentry of a previously deported or removed alien found in the United States. Once identity is affirmed, the original order will be executed. 


Detention and Removal of Aliens Ordered Removed 


     This rule incorporates the changes made to section 241 of the Act by section 305(a) of IIRIRA. Section 241 of the Act now relates to the period for removal of aliens, post-order detention and removal of aliens, reinstatement of final orders, and detention and removal of stowaways.

     This rule provides for the assumption of custody during the removal period, allows detention beyond the period, and provides conditions for discretionary release and supervision of aliens who cannot be removed during the period. A district director may issue a warrant of removal based on a final administrative order of removal. The warrant of removal will authorize the Service to take an alien in the United States into custody during the removal period. The Service is required to assume custody of any alien within the United States once the 90-day removal period begins, as defined in the section 241 of the Act, and detain the alien until removal or expiration of the removal period. At the expiration of the removal period, the Service has the discretion to release an alien. If the alien shows to the satisfaction of the district director that the alien is not a threat to the community and is likely to report for removal, the district director may release the alien on an order of supervision. As a condition of release, an authorized officer may require the posting of a bond, impose restrictions on conduct, and require periodic reporting to a designated officer. The district director may grant employment authorization as specified in the Act. The district director retains the authority to grant humanitarian stays of removal.

     This rule restates the principle, previously found at 243.5, that an alien who departs the United States while a final order is outstanding has executed the order.

Detention and Removal of Stowaways

     The arrival of stowaways in the United States, particularly aboard cargo vessels, has long been a problem for both the transportation companies and the Service. Section 308(e) of IIRIRA has stricken former section 273(d) of the Act, which governed stowaways and section 305 of IIRIRA has clearly defined the responsibilities for stowaways and costs of detention in the new section 241 of the Act. All stowaways are deemed to be inadmissible under the Act and are not entitled to a hearing on admissibility. Those with a credible fear of persecution may seek asylum in accordance with 8 CFR part 208 in proceedings before an immigration judge.

     Under the provisions of section 241 of the Act, the carrier (which includes the owner, agent, master, commanding officer, person in charge, purser, or consignee) is responsible for detaining the stowaway on board the vessel or aircraft (or at another approved location) until completion of the inspection, and may not permit the alien to leave the vessel or aircraft, unless authorized by the Service for either medical treatment, detention by the Service, or removal of the stowaway. The Service may order that the stowaway be removed on the vessel or aircraft of arrival when that is the most practical manner of removal. With the mutual goal of removing stowaways by the most expeditious and secure means, the Service will generally favor any reasonable request to remove the stowaway on other than the vessel or aircraft of arrival. The carrier must make all travel arrangements, including obtaining any necessary travel documents.

     Since asylum-seeking stowaways may not be removed pending a final decision on their asylum claim, which may sometimes extend for a lengthy period, the statute limits the detention liability of the owner of the vessel or aircraft. The owner is now responsible for a period of time needed to determine whether the stowaway has a credible fear of persecution, and a reasonable period, beginning when a credible fear is found to exist, during which the asylum application may be considered. The statute and regulations allow for up to 72 hours to arrange and conduct the credible fear interview, although the Service anticipates that this will occur as expeditiously as possible, depending on the location and circumstances of the stowaway's arrival. If the stowaway is allowed to pursue his or her asylum application, the statute provides 15 working days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, for the asylum claim to be heard, at the expense of the owner of the vessel or aircraft. Any detention required beyond that time period will be at the expense of the Service. The carrier remains liable for removal, including removal expenses, if the alien is denied asylum. 


Adjustment of Status

     Adjustment of status is granted in the discretion of the Attorney General. Consistent with Congress' intent that arriving aliens, as that term is defined in 1.1(g), be removed in an expedited manner through the procedures provided in section 235(b)(1) of the Act, the Attorney General has determined that she will not favorably exercise her discretion to adjust the status of arriving aliens who are ordered removed pursuant to section 235(b)(1) of the Act or who are placed in removal proceedings under section 240 of the Act. Of course, any such alien who has been persecuted or has a reasonable fear of persecution may request asylum in expedited removal. Arriving aliens who are granted asylum may then adjust their status outside of the removal proceeding context. In all other instances, those apprehended after arriving illegally in the United States should have no other benefit available to them, and should not be permitted to delay their removal through an application for adjustment of status. Any other arriving alien who is eligible to receive an immigrant visa will be required to return to his or her country of residence and request it through the consular process available to all aliens outside of the United States. If the Service decides, as a matter of prosecutorial discretion, not to initiate removal proceedings but to parole the arriving alien, the alien will be able to apply for adjustment of status before the district director.  


Disposition of Cases of Aliens Arrested in the United States

     The regulation proposes to amend 287.3 to differentiate the actions that must be taken when an alien is apprehended entering or attempting to enter the United States in violation of the immigration laws, or is otherwise found in the United States in violation of those laws. Disposition of the case will vary depending on the circumstances of entry or attempted entry, or the specific violation with which the alien is charged. This section is amended to include those cases that may now be processed under the expedited removal provisions of section 235(b)(1) of the Act, if such provisions are invoked by the Commissioner. 


Elimination of Mexican Border Visitor's Permit

     The Mexican Border Visitor's Permit, Form I-444, is a record of entry issued by the Service at land border ports-of-entry along the United States/Mexico border to holders of Nonresident Alien Border Crossing Cards, Forms I-186 and I-586. The Nonresident Alien Border Crossing Card is issued in place of a nonimmigrant visa. Currently, Form I-444 is issued when the requested visit to the United States will be for more than 72 hours but less than 30 days in duration or when requested travel is more than 25 miles from the United States/Mexico border but within the five states of Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, or Texas. The Service also issues Form I-444 to Mexican nationals who are in possession of valid Mexican passports and multiple-entry nonimmigrant visas requesting admission to the United States under the limitations described above.

     The current Form I-444 has been in use since 1983 and the Service now issues over 200,000 of these forms per month. Due largely to its lack of security features and the absence of standardization between ports, Form I-444 is widely counterfeited. The Service has been unable to demonstrate that there is a connection between the limits on travel by persons issued Forms I-444 and immigration violations. These restrictions should be lifted and applicants for admission should be admitted as any other person in possession of a B-1 or B-2 visa is admitted.

     This regulation proposes to remove references to the issuance of the form and the section requiring a fee for issuance of Form I-444. A provision is added requiring the issuance of Form I-94, and collection of the fee, for Mexican nationals seeking to enter for more than 72 hours and/or to travel further than 25 miles from the United States/Mexico border. The Form I-94 issued to a B-2 visitor for pleasure is normally valid for 6 months. The proposed rule provides in 235.1(f) that a Form I-94 issued at a land border port-of-entry is valid for multiple entries unless otherwise indicated.  


Streamlining and Updating of Regulations 


     The President has directed each agency to undertake a review of its regulations for the purpose of reducing the regulations or, when possible, rendering them more readable and comprehensible. See E.O. 12866, 58 FR 51,735 (1993). The Service is engaging in a thorough line-by-line review of all regulations in Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations.  


Updated Sections  


     References to the former section 212(a)(17) of the Act dealing with the Attorney General's consent to apply for readmission have been removed from 217.2(b) and replaced with the current citation. References throughout 8 CFR part 235 to special inquiry officers have been replaced with the title "immigration judge." References to regional commissioners have been replaced with references to regional directors. The regulatory language contained in 238.1, 238.2, 238.3, and 238.5 has been moved to 8 CFR part 233, to conform with redesignation of those statutory sections by the IIRIRA. Lists of carriers signatory to agreements with the Service for carriage of transit passengers and preinspection have been removed from the regulations and will be maintained by the Headquarters Office of Inspections.  


Terminated Programs 


     References to initial (not replacement) application procedures in 235.12 for Form I-777, Northern Mariana Card, have been removed as the application period for that form expired in July 1990. Section 235.9, dealing with refugee admissions, has been removed as that procedure is no longer followed and its subject is now governed by section 207 of the Act. Provisions in 211.2 dealing with waivers of passport requirements for third-preference immigrants have been removed as that category of immigrant no longer exists. Terms which were appropriate in referring to exclusion and deportation procedures have been changed to reflect the single removal process. 


Removal of Purely Procedural Matters Involving Only Internal Service Processes

     The discussion of internal Service procedures regarding the admission of immigrant children formerly found in 211.4 has been removed. Language in 211.5 relating to admission procedures for alien commuters has been removed in favor of placing such information into Service Field Manuals. Examples dealing with alien crewmen, as well as Canadian nationals, have been removed from 235.1. Part 232 of 8 CFR dealing with the procedures for notification of the master or agent of an arriving vessel when arriving aliens were placed in detention for mental or physical examination has been removed since it is addressed in Service manuals. Language dealing with procedures for completion of entry documents for nonimmigrant aliens, Mexican border crossers, bearers of Mexican diplomatic passports, and paroled aliens in 8 CFR part 235 has been removed. Language in 235.2 relating to deferred inspection procedures for incapacitated or incompetent aliens has also been removed. Section 235.4 dealing solely with Service procedures for endorsing documents evidencing admission has been revised to address the withdrawal of an application for admission. The former 251.1(d), dealing with the notations to be made on Service forms when inspecting crewmen, has been incorporated into Service manuals.  


Elimination of Duplication

     Duplicative references have been removed. Language in 217.2, relating to eligibility for the Visa Waiver Pilot Program, has been removed as it merely restates the eligibility requirements contained in the Act. Language in 217.3 and throughout relating to Visa Waiver Pilot Program participants' eligibility for other immigration benefits and readmission after departure to contiguous territory has been removed as it merely restates the Act and is covered by other regulations in this part.  



     Section 211.1 has been restructured in its entirety to make it easier to comprehend. The provisions relating to admission of children of lawful permanent residents formerly contained in 211.2 have been consolidated into the general waiver provisions of section 211.1. Language formerly in 211.2(b) which referred to other code sections by description has been replaced by a simple citation. Sections 211.3, 211.4, and 235.9 have been removed and reserved as their contents are addressed in other sections of this part. The 8 CFR part 251, relating to alien crewmen, longshore work, and vessels has been restructured and clarified.

     Unnecessary recitals of the law have been removed in the following: 211.5(b), relating to forfeiture of an I-551 upon loss of resident status by a commuter alien; and 217.1, which merely restates statutory language regarding eligibility for admission under the Visa Waiver Pilot Program. The 8 CFR part 217 has been streamlined by consolidating various definitions throughout that part into one section. Confusing language in 217.3 has been streamlined with regard to readmission under the Visa Waiver Pilot Program of an alien who has departed to contiguous territory or an adjacent island has been streamlined. 


Other Changes 


     In addition, conforming and purely editorial or grammatical revisions have been made, as appropriate. 


Regulatory Flexibility Act

     The Attorney General, in accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 605(b)), has reviewed this regulation and, by approving it, certifies that the rule will not have a significant adverse economic impact on a substantial number of small entities because of the following factors. This rule affects only Federal government operations by codifying statutory amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act primarily regarding the examination, detention, and removal of aliens from the United States. It affects only individuals and does not impose any reporting or compliance requirements on small entities.  


Executive Order 12866

     This rule is considered by the Department of Justice to be a "significant regulatory action" under Executive Order 12866, section 3(f), because it will have a significant economic impact on the Federal government in excess of $100,000,000. No economic impact is anticipated for state and local governments. The Service projects significant increases in detention-related costs due to the provisions of IIRIRA which mandate the custody of criminal aliens who have committed two or more crimes involving moral turpitude, aliens convicted of firearms offenses, and aliens who have been convicted of an aggravated felony. The type of crime that will qualify as an "aggravated felony" has been greatly expanded under IIRIRA. In addition, all aliens, even non-criminal aliens, who are subject to a final administrative order of removal must be held in custody until the alien can be removed from the United States. If the person is not removed within 90 days he or she may be released from custody.

     The Commissioner has notified Congress pursuant to section 303(b) of IIRIRA that the Service lacks sufficient space to immediately implement the mandatory custody provisions. This notification will delay for 1 year full implementation of the new mandatory custody provisions. Section 303(b) also provides for an additional 1-year delay in implementation of the mandatory custody provisions upon a second certification that space and personnel are inadequate to comply with the requirement. The Service estimates that the cost to enforce the requirement to detain all criminal aliens will be at least $205,000,000. Of that total, personnel costs account for $65,284,000 which include detention and deportation officers ($32,873,000), investigators ($25,501,000), legal proceedings personnel ($4,968,000), and administrative support ($1,942,000). Non-personnel requirements are projected to be at least $139,732,000 which includes increases in bedspace and related alien custody requirements ($82,782,000 - funds 3,600 beds @ $63.00 per day), increases in alien travel expenses ($36,000,000 - 3,600 removals @ $1,000 each), and detention vehicle expenses ($20,950,000). The Service is currently in the process of projecting the costs of the IIRIRA requirement that we detain all aliens with administratively final orders of deportation pending their removal.

     In addition to these detention related costs, the Service estimates that the expenses for training employees on the provisions of the new law and the regulations will be $2,977,500. The cost to the Service related to additional forms or changes needed to current forms is estimated to be $2,000,000 (until the final list of form requirements is completed it is not possible to more accurately assess this cost). Finally, the Department believes there may be some increases needed for immigration judges to review credible fear determinations made under section 235(b) of the INA.

     The EOIR estimates increases in its costs related to IIRIRA-mandated immigration judge review of credible fear determinations (which must be made under stringent time frames) and the prompt immigration judge review which IIRIRA requires of certain expedited removal orders entered against aliens claiming to be lawful permanent residents, asylees or refugees. Further, EOIR projects costs associated with the need for an Immigration Court presence in nearly every port-of-entry, which will result from the above-mentioned credible fear review and expedited removal review process. Also, there will be costs related to the overall need for an increased Immigration Court presence at existing Service detention centers to support the processing of the additional detainees that will result from the implementation of this rule. Similarly, EOIR anticipates a need for construction of new Immigration Courts at new detention facilities the Service may open as a result of this rule's implementation.

     Although there are still a number of unknown variables which could effect the total costs to EOIR to implement its part of the new expedited removal process and to respond to the increased number of detained individuals in proceedings under this rule, EOIR estimates that the total annual cost for EOIR could be as high as $25,000,000. Of that total, the cost for hiring new immigration judges and legal support staff is projected to be $21,300,000. The cost for new video and audio teleconferencing equipment is estimated at $3,000,000. Training costs are expected to be approximately $400,000. Finally, forms and other support requirements are estimated to cost $300,000. 


Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Act of 1996 


     At this time the Department considers this rule a "major rule" as defined in 5 U.S.C. 804(2). 


Executive Order 12612 


     The regulations proposed herein will not have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the National Government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. Therefore, in accordance with Executive Order 12612, it is determined that this rule does not have sufficient Federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a Federalism Assessment. 


Executive Order 12988

     This proposed rule meets the applicable standards set forth in section 3 (a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988. 


Paperwork Reduction Act

     The information collection requirements contained in this rule have been forwarded to the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act. The OMB control numbers for these collection are contained in 8 CFR 299.5, Display of control numbers. 


List of Subjects 


8 CFR Part 1

     Administrative practice and procedure, Immigration. 


8 CFR Part 3

     Administrative practice and procedure, Immigration, Organization and functions (Government agencies). 


8 CFR Part 103

     Administrative practice and procedure, Authority delegations (Government agencies), Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. 


8 CFR Part 204

     Administrative practice and procedure, Immigration, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. 


8 CFR Part 207

     Administrative practice and procedure, Refugees, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. 


8 CFR Part 208

     Administrative practice and procedure, Aliens, Immigration, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. 


8 CFR Part 209

     Aliens, Immigration, Refugees. 


8 CFR Part 211

     Immigration, Passports and visas, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. 


8 CFR Part 212

     Administrative practice and procedure, Aliens, Immigration, Passports and Visas, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. 


8 CFR Part 213

     Immigration, Surety bonds. 


8 CFR Part 214

     Administrative practice and procedure, Aliens. 


8 CFR Part 216

     Administrative practice and procedure, Aliens. 


8 CFR Part 217

     Air carriers, Aliens, Maritime carriers, Passports and Visas. 


8 CFR Part 221

     Aliens, Surety bonds. 


8 CFR Part 223

     Aliens, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. 


8 CFR Part 232

     Aliens, Public Health. 


8 CFR Part 233

     Administrative practice and procedure, Air carriers, Government contracts, Travel. 


8 CFR Part 234

     Air carriers, Aircraft, Airports, Aliens.  


8 CFR Part 235 

     Administrative practice and procedure, Aliens, Immigration, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. 


8 CFR Part 236

     Administrative practice and procedure, Aliens, Immigration. 


8 CFR Part 237