In the first week of November, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released a memo outlining the scope of Operation Horizon, a plan aimed at locating thousands of illegal immigrants to determine whether or not they should be deported from the United States.
The document, signed by ICE Acting Director Ty Johnson and the removal agency’s chief legal counsel, Kerry Doyle, states that “the stated intent of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is to mail Notices of Appearance (NTA) until people are released. At the border they show up for an appointment before an immigration judge.
Failure to do so, either because the recipient did not receive the document or intentionally missed the appointment, “will be subject to a deportation order in absentia and will lose their rights to remain in the United States,” explains Jose Guerrero, an attorney-practicing in Miami, Florida.
These are the keys to consider if your name is on the list, you were detained at the border this year and then released waiting for your day in court so that the judge can decide on your asylum case and stay in the US.
The ICE memo explains that Operation Horizon, in addition to submitting an NTA, is trying to prevent people in the process from unfairly receiving a deportation order in absentia.
Studies have consistently shown that one of the main reasons people take orders
He adds that the deportation in absentia is due to bureaucratic problems related to the lack of notification.”
Given the possibility that many immigrants may have changed addresses and not been duly notified, the memorandum recommends that alternative means be sought to receive notifications to beneficiaries and appear at deportation trials, where they would have the possibility to seek asylum.
On November 5, a group of five organizations, led by the American Immigration Council (AIC), sent a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement expressing “concern” that Operation Horizon could result in a “significant number of people being deported.” and in absentia. They do not receive NTAs and therefore lose hearings before an immigration judge.”
The group urged ICE to “reconsider the plan and explore alternative means of communicating with people” to send them an NTA, and suggested they could be contacted by phone at the numbers migrants left on documents when they were arrested at the border.
The organizations are also suggesting that the government work with local communities to search for the thousands of released immigrants so that they obtain their NTAs and can appear before immigration judges and thus avoid issuing deportation orders in absentia.