\ fr \ Federal Register Publications (CIS, ICE, CBP) \ Federal Register Publications (Legacy INS) - 2000 \ FEDERAL REGISTER FINAL REGULATIONS - 2000 \ Detention of Aliens Ordered Removed [65 FR 80281] [FR 70-00] \ Board Review and Procedural Safeguards
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Board Review and Procedural Safeguards
Many commenters expressed concerns over the adequacy of procedural safeguards in the proposed rule and objected to the elimination of Board review of the Service’s custody determinations. One commenter opined that the Board ensures consistency of decision making through publication of decisions and suggested that if Board review is eliminated by the final rule, then the Service should publish precedent decisions made available to the public to inform and bind decision-makers in subsequent cases. Further, th
e commenter noted the regulations should specify that the decisions are binding on the district directors and the Headquarter Post-order Detention Unit (HQPDU). First, the law does not require independent review by the Board.
See Marcello v. Bonds,
349 U.S. 302, 310 (1955). Second, the rule contemplates individualized determinations where each case must be reviewed on its particular facts and circumstances, and affords aliens periodic reconsideration in a non-adversarial process. Appropriate guidance to the public and the Service officers involved is provided by the rules themselves. Appropriate exercise of discretionary authority and consistency in decision making are further achieved by transferring the detention authority from the various district
directors nationwide to the centralized HQPDU and provision for specially trained Service officers who will administer the program and make the periodic custody determinations. The Service concurs with the commenter who expressed concern over training issues and recommended that the Service staff should be trained by non-law enforcement personnel. One of the basic requirements for quality decision making is specific training of officers who will be making custody recommendations or determinations. The Serv
ice already has an on-going training program for Service officers who participate in Cuban Review Panels and that training program includes non-law enforcement trainers. Training is being provided to Service officers who will administer the program, and will be maintained and routinely monitored with the implementation of the final rule. The commenter also advocated that the final rule provide an enforcement mechanism if the established procedures are not followed, such as a complaint procedure to the Execu
tive Associate Commissioner for Operations, or Director of the HQPDU. Nothing in the rule prevents the detainee from notifying the HQPDU Director of delays in the processing of the detainee’s custody review. The Service must maintain some flexibility in scheduling reviews, but any unusual delays or other problems should be brought to the Director’s attention.
Several commenters expressed concern that the proposed rule does not give the alien a full opportunity to demonstrate why he or she should be released. The rule provides the alien the opportunity to submit advance documentation pertinent to consideration for release, and the alien has a full opportunity to supplement those materials during the panel interview. The panel will not proceed with or will interrupt an interview if it becomes apparent that the alien does not understand the proceedings. Further, th
e alien may advise the district director or HQPDU in advance of the scheduled review that he or she requests a translator, and, if appropriate, a competent interpreter will be provided.
Representation at no expense to the government is in accord with statutory requirements at section 292 of the Act, 8 U.S.C. 1362. Far from discouraging the alien from obtaining assistance for a custody review, the rule makes reasonable provision for the alien to secure legal services or assistance of his or her choosing at no expense to the government. The Service will provide detainees with a list of available pro bono or low cost legal representatives who may assist the alien in the custody review process
The Service also received numerous comments that the district director and HQPDU custody reviews should be conducted by an independent adjudicator. Custody review procedures do not require an independent adjudicator. In
which dealt with deportation proceedings, the court noted that the fact that the special inquiry officer was subject to the supervision and control of Service officials charged with investigative and prosecuting functions did not so strip the hearing of fairness and impartiality as to make the procedure violative of due process. The court stated that: “The contention is without substance when considered against the long-standing practice in deportation proceedings, judicially approved in numerous decisions
in the federal courts, and against the special considerations applicable to deportation which the Congress may take into account in exercising its particularly broad discretion in immigration matters.” 349 U.S. at 311.
As indicated, this rule is modeled after the Cuban Review Plan, at 8 CFR 212.12, an analogous statutory and regulatory framework providing for the continued custody of excludable criminal aliens when, subject to periodic reconsideration, the Attorney General determines that release of such aliens would pose a danger to the community. The experience of the Cuban Review Plan concretely demonstrates that these procedures provide sound decision making for both the Government and the alien. Because the Cuban Rev
iew Plan’s inception in April 1988, parole has been granted in over 7,000 cases (some of these may be the same individuals who are reparoled).
Under the current post-order custody review procedures set forth in 8 CFR 241.4 and the Pearson memorandum, approximately 6,200 aliens have been provided custody reviews by district directors during the period from February 1999 through mid-November 2000, to determine whether detention of the alien beyond the 90-day removal period is warranted. Of those aliens, approximately 3,380 were released.
The Department has carefully considered the views of the commenters, and will retain the proposed procedures in the final rule.
Showing by the Alien
The Service received numerous comments on the showing required of the alien under § 241.4(d)(1). These commenters believed that the Government should bear the burden of demonstrating why the alien should not be released. In other words, there should be a presumption of release. Some commenters objected to the standard of “to the satisfaction of the Attorney General” as confusing and also objected to the language that the alien’s release not present a danger to the “safety of other persons or to property
.” One commenter expressed the belief that this was a lesser standard than “clear and convincing evidence” and was therefore unacceptable.
One commenter proposed language for § 241.4(d)(1) based on a presumption in favor of release and no detention unless conditions identified in 18 U.S.C. 3142(c) cannot reasonably ensure the alien’s appearance for removal and protect against dangers to the community, other persons, or property.
A presumption in favor of release along the lines suggested by the commenters would be contrary to recent legislation. Through a series of enactments over the past 13 years, Congress has manifested a serious and growing concern regarding aliens subject to removal who abscond or commit additional crimes while released from custody. Numerous provisions of the Act, as recently amended, address this concern.
63 FR 27441 (May 18, 1998) (reviewing enactments and legislative history). Moreover, removal proceedings are civil in nature, and the Supreme Court has held consistently and in a variety of contexts that criminal procedures and legal standards are not applicable to such proceedings.
The language of section 241(a)(6) of the Act, 8 U.S.C. 1231(a)(6), the current provision governing post-order detention, does not create any such presumption of release, nor does an alien enjoy a right to liberty on account of the unwillingness of his or her own or another government to accept him or her.
See Gisbert v. Attorney General,
988 F.2d 1437, 1443, 1447 (5th Cir.),
, 997 F.2d 1122 (5th Cir. 1993);
Garcia-Mir v. Smith,
766 F.2d 1478, 1484 (11th Cir. 1985).
The fact that an alien has been released on parole from a criminal sentence, and has not committed any additional offenses while on parole, may be considered by the Service in determining whether an individual alien may be released, but these facts are not dispositive. For example, an alien’s release from criminal custody may be based on the expiration of his or her sentence or other factors such as overcrowding in the penal facility and not related to the alien’s dangerousness to the community.
After full consideration of all pertinent comments, the Department will retain the required showing by the alien as provided in the proposed rule.
The Alien’s Representative and His Role
Several commenters felt that the alien’s representative should have a more active role in the custody review process, including questioning the alien and making closing statements. It was also suggested that the panel interview should be modeled after asylum interviews pursuant to 8 CFR 208.9(d). Nothing in the final rule prohibits the representative from speaking and assisting the alien or making a closing statement; however, the procedures are not formal or adversarial in nature, nor is this a criminal pr
oceeding. The representative may be of assistance in bringing factors in support of the alien’s request for release to the attention of the decision-maker that the alien may have neglected to mention and which may assist in explaining any documentation that requires clarification. However, the representative is an advocate and does not replace the need for the initial decision-maker to evaluate the demeanor and credibility of the alien. The decision-maker will evaluate the alien’s suitability for release ba
sed on observation as well as other relevant circumstances. If the representative could fulfill this function, there would be no need for an interview of the alien. Certainly it is within the decision-maker’s discretion to order the alien released after hearing from counsel and receiving any written documentation in support of release just as the decision-maker can order release after a records review. It is not required that the alien participate in an interview, the rule requires that the opportunity be a
fforded to the alien, however, the decision-maker may draw negative inferences from the alien’s failure to participate. The Department finds that it is not necessary to formalize the interview process as has been done with the asylum regulations and will retain the supplemental rule language as written.
A number of commenters objected to the language of §§ 241.4(h)(2) and (i)(3)(ii) referencing the discretion of the panel or the institution to exclude an alien’s representative. The Department will modify the language of this section with language similar to that suggested by one of the commenters. To address any security concerns the panel or institution may have in regard to a particular representative, the final rule will reflect that the alien may obtain assistance from a person of his or her choice sub
ject to the panel’s and institution’s reasonable security concerns.
One commenter also stated that assistance of counsel should be at no expense to the Service rather than at no expense to the Government. The Department has no authority to override the language of section 292 of the Act, 8 U.S.C. 1362, or to authorize expenditures by other government components, and will make no modification to this section of the rule.
Interpreters and Record of Interviews
Many commenters expressed the view that, at the alien’s request, the Department should utilize professional interpreters only. One commenter added that interpreters should be utilized whenever one was used in the underlying criminal court case. The Department wishes to stress that wherever communication becomes problematic, the interview will be interrupted or postponed if necessary to secure competent translation. The panel members take notes during the interview process and are instructed during their tra
ining to ensure that the alien understands the nature of the proceedings and has every opportunity to address the panel members and ask questions. Advance notification that the alien desires a translator will enable the decision-maker to investigate the necessity of securing the services of a qualified interpreter and will facilitate conducting the interview as scheduled.The Department declines to require a taped recording of the interview as some commenters urged. The district director (under § 241.4(c)(1)
) and the HQPDU Director (under § 241.4(c)(3)) maintain appropriate files respecting each detained alien who is reviewed for possible release. The HQPDU panel members conducting an interview make contemporaneous notes of the interview, which are made part of the alien’s A file. Similarly, when an alien is interviewed as part of the district director’s custody review, any notes made of such interview are made part of the alien’s A file. In addition, decision-makers may rely on a variety of materials, includ
ing those from public records, the Executive Office for Immigration Review’s administrative record, and from the alien and his family members and friends. As explained herein, access to the alien’s A file is currently provided and that policy remains in effect. Also, as noted below, much of the information in an alien’s A file is already in the detainee’s possession or is a public record (such as a conviction), and a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request can be made for additional items. Any documentati
on the alien submits will become part of the A file, as does the written recommendation and decision.
Some commenters observed that the proposed rule did not impose criminal standards on the custody procedures and suggested that the rule should mandate adherence to principles of criminal law. However, immigration proceedings are civil, not criminal, in nature and rules that are applicable to criminal cases are not so here.
See INS v. Lopez-Mendoza,
468 U.S. 1032, 1038-39 (1984);
Guti v. INS,
908 F.2d 495, 496 (9th Cir. 1992) (
) (holding Bail Reform Act inapplicable to immigration proceedings).
Specifically, one commenter said that requiring responses from the alien during the panel interview, see § 241.4(i)(4), denies the right against self-incrimination. It is up to the alien to demonstrate that he or she does not constitute a danger to the public safety or a flight risk. While responses are not required, if the alien chooses not to answer questions put to him or her, negative inferences may be drawn from the alien’s silence.
See Bilokumsky v. Tod,
263 U.S. 149, 153-54 (1923).
The Decision Making Process
Many commenters felt that § 241.4(d) did not require sufficiently comprehensive decisions detailing how and why a decision to continue custody was made. Several commenters offered replacement language for this section. The Department will retain the language of the proposed rule that mirrors that of 8 CFR 212.12. A decision to continue custody under this rule must specify the reasons for the continued detention. A particular format is not required.
Several commenters noted that the HQPDU Director should not be able to overrule a panel recommendation of release. One commenter expressed the view that the HQPDU be eliminated altogether. The Department will make no changes to the rule in this respect. The purpose of the HQPDU is to act as a reviewing authority. The HQPDU must have discretion to review the panel recommendation. This discretionary authority does not nullify the interview process as one commenter opined. Rather, the process gives the central
reviewer crucial information about the alien that will provide a major focal point for the custody review. To ensure consistency, the HQPDU should be authorized to reverse a favorable as well as an unfavorable panel recommendation in the exercise of the Attorney General’s discretion. The procedure of centralized review has been successfully used in the Cuban Review Plan. Experience with that program has demonstrated that the Headquarters decision sometimes overrules the recommendation below, whether that r
ecommendation is in favor of release or continued detention.
One commenter stated that the transfer of detention authority to the centralized unit would cause delays in the process. The final rule provides for periodic reviews at scheduled intervals. The Service will adhere to these timetables as provided in the final rule. Other commenters contend that the process has inherent bias as the composition of the panels is selected from Service professionals who are law enforcement personnel rather than social workers, probation officers, or mental health professionals. D
ecision making authority regarding custody has traditionally been entrusted to officers of the Service. The Supreme Court has long recognized the ability of Service officers to make immigration determinations, including custody determinations, and Service officers have long carried out this responsibility. The present rule is intended to draw upon significant, specialized expertise and experience within the Service, particularly from the Mariel Cuban program, to assist the Department in reaching sound, well
-considered custody decisions. The Department believes that this rule will improve the quality and consistency of post-order custody decisions, and will retain the pertinent provisions as currently drafted.
District Director Responsibilities
Several commenters stated that the district directors should be encouraged to interview the alien; that it is insufficient to rely on a records review that may not be complete. Under the final rule, the district director has the discretion to conduct a personal or telephonic interview.
Further, under the final rule the alien has the opportunity to submit any documentation that he or she feels supports his or her request for release. In that way, any recent and probative material including rehabilitative efforts may be considered in conducting the custody review. Also, the recent conclusion of immigration proceedings should mean that the A file maintained by the Service on the alien contains the most recent information available. The Department will not mandate a personal or telephonic int
erview by the district director for the 90-day custody review. It is impracticable to require a district director to personally interview every alien detained within his or her district. The district director must delegate many duties to the officers working for him or her in order to ensure that tasks for which he or she is responsible are carried out properly and as expeditiously as possible. The final rule provides for an interview after the HQPDU has conducted a records review and has not made an initia
l determination to order the alien’s release.
Some commenters expressed the view that whether or not the Service could obtain a travel document was either irrelevant or of minimal relevance to the issue of whether the alien was eligible for release. In addition, several commenters suggested that travel documents would have to be in the Service’s actual possession in order to trigger an inquiry into further detention. The Department will not change the final rule based on these comments. The comments are contrary to the congressional goal, enacted into
law, to ensure that aliens ordered removed from the United States are available for prompt removal when travel documents are obtained. As indicated in the government’s response to comments on the constitutionality of this rule and statutory interpretation, section 241(a)(6) of the Act grants the Attorney General specific authority to continue to detain an alien following the expiration of the removal period. An order of removal does not convert to a grant of admission or de facto admission because a foreign
government delays or refuses to accept the return of one of its nationals. Similarly, an alien found deportable and ordered removed does not gain permission to remain in the United States simply because of the refusal of another country to admit the alien. Congress enacted the removal period at section 241(a) of the Act to facilitate the removal of criminal aliens, an objective of paramount importance. Detention has proven to be an effective enforcement tool in the removal of criminal aliens as nondetained
aliens often fail to appear for pending immigration proceedings or removal after issuance of a final order. It is within the discretion of the Service to determine the likelihood of receipt of a travel document in the foreseeable future. A policy of automatic release pending the issuance of travel documents would thwart the intention of Congress that the Attorney General be vested with the discretion to detain certain aliens including those who pose a danger to the community or a risk of flight pending the
ir removal. Such a policy could serve to encourage foreign governments to further delay or refuse to accept the return of their nationals if they expect the U.S. Government will release the alien.
345 U.S. at 216;
44 F.3d at 1448.
Two commenters felt that the proposed rule improperly penalizes aliens who fail to cooperate with the Service in seeking a travel document. Although the purposes of immigration detention are not punitive, we wish to emphasize that cooperation in obtaining a travel document is required by law, and that failure of an alien subject to a final removal order to cooperate with the Service in obtaining a travel document is a felony punishable by imprisonment of four to ten years.
section 243(a)(1)(D) of the Act, 8 U.S.C. 1253(a)(1)(D) (Supp. IV 1998). An alien who fails or refuses to cooperate in obtaining a travel document not only engages in criminal conduct, but also helps to bring about the very condition he or she complains of--
prolonged detention--by that criminal conduct. Moreover, the Act specifically provides for detention in the event that an alien subject to a final removal order fails or refuses to cooperate in obtaining a travel document.
section 241(a)(1)(C) of the Act, 8 U.S.C. 1231(a)(1)(C) (Supp. IV 1998). These provisions manifest a clear congressional policy with regard to cooperation in obtaining travel documents. The Department believes the rule as presently drafted is both consistent with this congressional policy and reasonable in allowing for consideration of the alien’s cooperation and compliance with the law. The pertinent provisions will be retained without modification.