The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) sets the terms and conditions for an alien to lawfully be admitted to the United States, either temporarily or permanently. For example, under current regulations, aliens apprehended entering the United States illegally or without proper documents are subject to expedited removal, allowing DHS to quickly remove them without placing them before an immigration judge (IJ) in removal proceedings under section 240 of the INA. There is a notable exception to this quick-removal process if the alien requests asylum or claims a fear of harm if returned. In that scenario, the alien is interviewed by an asylum officer (AO) to determine whether the alien has a “credible fear”. The credible fear interview serves as a screening process to determine whether the alien may be eligible for asylum.
Importantly, Congress mandated that aliens in expedited removal proceedings be detained: detained when apprehended; detained pending an interview on a credible fear claim; and detained pending a determination on any subsequent asylum claim.
Yet, over the last 25 years, covering presidential administrations of both political parties, certain laws, policies, and judicial rulings have created enormous loopholes in our immigration laws that have encouraged economic migrants, including family units (FMUs) and unaccompanied alien children (UACs), to take the journey north to unlawfully cross our southern border.