Review of Issues Related to a Study of Expedited Removal Pursuant to the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998
B-304587, Apr 6, 2005
In February 2005, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) issued a study, pursuant to section 605 of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA), on expedited removal proceedings for aliens seeking asylum. Section 208(c)(2) of IRFA directed USCIRF to provide the funds for the section 605 study, subject to the availability of appropriations. In annual appropriations acts, Congress appropriated funds for necessary expenses of the Commission, as authorized by title II of IRFA, and provided that the funds were to be available indefinitely, without fiscal year limitation. The appropriated funds that USCIRF carried over and used for the study were therefore available for that purpose.
Section 605(a)(1) of IRFA states that if the Commission so requests, the Attorney General shall invite experts designated by the Commission to conduct an expedited removal study. Section 605(c)(1) of IRFA requires the Attorney General to give such experts unrestricted access to expedited removal proceedings for the purpose of conducting the study. USCIRF requested the invitations contemplated by section 605(a)(1) from both the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security. There was no statutory requirement that either the request or the invitations be in writing. Both agencies communicated extensively with the experts through their lead representative and provided written protocols for the experts' access to the immigration proceedings, records, and other information needed to conduct the study. By extending cooperation to the USCIRF-designated experts and facilitating their performance of the study, both agencies invited them to conduct the study within the meaning of section 605 of IRFA.