Departure under safeguards, also known as enforced departure or voluntary departure, is a process where an illegal alien departs from the United States under the supervision of agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This voluntary agreement can prevent apprehension and deportation proceedings from being brought against the individual.
When an immigrant agrees to comply with the departure under safeguards process, they are bound to leave the United States within a certain window of time. All costs associated with the departure under safeguards are imposed on the individual and they are responsible for fulfilling any legal requirements that must be satisfied.
By avoiding a deportation charge, they can avoid the legal consequences of deportation. The biggest legal consequence of deportation is that reentry after being legally removed by the U.S. Center for Immigration Services (USCIS) can result in the individual being permanently barred from returning to the United States or being charged with a felony.
Sometimes there may be some alternatives to departure under safeguards. With the correct legal representation and knowledge, an immigrant facing deportation may be able to apply for asylum, cancellation of removal, or withholding of removal. Additionally, immigrants from certain countries may qualify for exceptions under legislation such as the Cuban Adjustment Law or the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA).
Departure under safeguards requirements can sometimes be adjusted depending on certain circumstances. One way that voluntary departures can be delayed is through the process of Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).
According to the USCIS, the president is granted the authority to declare a DED order as part of the executive branch’s constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations. Under DED, covered individuals are exempted from removal from the United States for a certain period of time.
Some prominent examples of DED orders include George W. Bush’s Sept 12, 2007 order to pause removals for citizens of Liberia until June 30, 2024, and Joe Biden’s Aug 5, 2021 order pausing the removal of Hong Kong citizens until Feb 5, 2023. The eligibility requirements to qualify for a DED order are based on the specific language of the presidential directive.
There can also be situations that prevent enforced departure under Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) that can be extended. Even if the individual does not apply for an extension for their EAD, the Department of Human Services can issue a blanket extension for expiring EADs and DEDs. This extension will be published in the Federal Register and can be printed out and presented with EAD and DED papers to employers or government agencies to demonstrate their continued authorization. This only applies to individuals who are still eligible for the relevant DED or EAD.
If an individual does qualify for DED exemption status, they can temporarily leave the country by receiving travel authorization. This is known as advance parole. Advance parole gives the individual permission to temporarily leave the United States as long as they return within a specified period. An individual can apply for advance parole using the Form I-131 Application for Travel Document.
If you have been apprehended, are facing deportation, and are considering departure under safeguards in order to avoid legal proceedings, you will need the help of an experienced Immigration Law attorney. An Immigration Law attorney will be able to advocate on your behalf in order to get you the best possible outcome for your case.
Using their legal expertise, trial tactics, and expert witnesses, your Immigration Law attorney can explore your alternative options to deportation as well as present your case in the most compelling light possible and deftly navigate the complex processes of immigration bureaucracy as well as the obscure functions of immigration court.