DHS Announces Expanded Border Control Plans

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Office of the Press SecretaryContact: 202-282-8010August 10, 2004

Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary for Border and TransportationSecurity Asa Hutchinson announced plans to expand control of the United Statesborders through increased use of immigration laws to combat illegal entrybetween the ports of entry while facilitating travel for legitimate Mexicanvisitors.

This will be accomplished by:

  1. Expanding the use of expedited removal from the ports-of-entry to locations along the U.S. border, and
  2. Increasing the amount of time a border crossing card will allow a card-holder to remain in the U.S.

We want to send a clear message that those individuals who follow legalimmigration procedures will benefit while those who choose to break ournations immigration laws will be promptly removed from the U.S., saidUnder Secretary Hutchinson.

Expedited Removal

While expedited removal has been effectively used at official ports of entryin the U.S. since 1997, it has not been applied on the land borders between theports of entry.  The expansion of expedited removal processing will allowDHS to speed the removal of illegal aliens who are caught while attempting toenter the United States by fraudulent means or while attempting to elude Customsand Border Protection (CBP) Border Patrol agents.  This new procedure willonly apply to those caught within 100 miles of the Mexican or Canadian borders,and only if they are apprehended within their first 14 days in the U.S.  Theexpanded use of expedited removal is primarily directed at those illegal alienswho are not citizens of Mexico or Canada.  

When a person is apprehended and placed in expedited removal proceedings by aCBP Border Patrol agent, he or she generally will be detained and removed to hisor her country of origin as soon as circumstances allow.  They will not bereleased into the U.S. in most cases, and is not provided a hearing before anImmigration Judge unless he or she is determined to have a credible fear ofreturn to his or her country.

Any person who expresses an intention to apply for asylum, or a fear ofpersecution or torture, or a fear of return to his or her home country will bereferred to a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) asylum officer fora "credible fear" interview.  If the person is found to have acredible fear, he or she will be removed from the expedited removal process andmay seek protection in a removal hearing before an Immigration Judge.

Border Crossing Card

DHS also has decided to expand the time restriction on border crossing cards(BCCs) used by Mexicans to enter the U.S. for temporary visits.  Thisdecision was closely coordinated between Secretary for Homeland Security TomRidge and Mexican Secretary of Government Santiago Creel.  Current ruleslimit the BCC holder to visits of up to 72 hours within the border zone of 25miles along the border in Texas, New Mexico, and California and 75 miles of theborder in Arizona.  Cardholders are exempt from US-VISIT processing fortheir short, border-zone visits.  In order to travel in the U.S. for longerperiods or outside of the border zone, a cardholder must obtain an I-94 form(Record of Entry/Departure), which allows travel throughout the U.S. for up tosix months.  

The forthcoming rule will extend the time limit for BCC visitors from 72hours to a period of 30 days.  As a result of this change, only BCC holdersapplying for entry of more than 30 days or travel outside of the border zonewould be processed through US-VISIT at the time they apply for an I-94 form. This would begin prior to the implementation of US-VISIT at the 50 busiestland border ports-of-entry, scheduled to start on Dec. 31, 2004.