If you follow the news at all, you have heard of ICE, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is the agency responsible for detaining and removing those foreign nationals who are in the country unlawfully. ICE receives a great deal of media coverage for its raids to capture and deport immigrants unlawfully present here. While this is only part of the work of this agency, if you encounter ICE, you are right to have concerns for your future.
One program supported by ICE agents is the Rapid Removal of Eligible Parolees Accepted for Transfer program. If you are in the U.S. without documentation and facing charges for a non-violent crime, you should be aware of the option provided through the Rapid REPAT program. You would be wise to discuss with an attorney whether this program will benefit you.
Is it right for you?
The Rapid REPAT program offers early release to certain immigrants living in the U.S. illegally who are incarcerated in state prisons for certain nonviolent crimes. The conditions of release include the serious stipulation that you must immediately return to your home country and not re-enter the U.S. In fact, if you do attempt to re-enter the country, ICE agents will return you to a Texas jail or prison to complete your sentence and potentially add more penalties. The following factors may qualify you for the Rapid REPAT program:
- You are 18 years or older.
- You voluntarily agree to participate in the program.
- You are not a citizen of the U.S.
- You have no more appeals for your case, or you waive the remainder of your options for disputing your conviction.
- You give your written agreement to take the necessary steps to obtain a travel document.
- The government of Texas agrees that your release is appropriate and that the state will benefit from it.
In fact, the financial benefit is the driving force behind the program. Some states have saved many millions in operating costs when prisoners participate in the Rapid REPAT program. The promise of an early release is welcome to many behind bars, and they accept the consequence of leaving the U.S. if it means they do not have to finish their sentences in jail or prison.
Your situation is unique, however. The benefits of the Rapid REPAT program may not outweigh the disadvantages. If you are eligible to participate in the early release program that will oblige you to leave the U.S., you would be wise to confer with an attorney about whether the option is in your best interests.