When you entered the U.S., you may have had many goals in mind. Perhaps you wanted to find work that would offer a future, or maybe you were looking to reunite with your family. However, it is possible you also had many fears and concerns when coming to this country and settling in Florida. Chief among those concerns may have been the potential for deportation, or removal, especially if you entered the U.S. unlawfully.
Deportation may not be the worst scenario for your circumstances. If you are currently facing criminal charges, you may wish you could return to your home country rather than serving a long sentence for a conviction. In fact, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency offers this option to certain immigrants.
What is Rapid REPAT?
Undoubtedly, you have heard of the government agency ICE. The function of this agency is to identify immigrants to the U.S. who have not followed the appropriate processes for residency or who have committed crimes that qualify them for removal. Of course, for non-citizens of the U.S., those offenses may not be as severe as you would think. If spending time in a U.S. jail or prison is not something you prefer, you may be eligible for ICE’s Rapid Removal of Eligible Parolees Accepted for Transfer program.
Through this program, you may voluntarily return to your home country in exchange for early release from a Florida prison under the following circumstances:
- A criminal court convicts you of a non-violent crime.
- You have already used up your chances for appeal or you willingly waive those rights.
- You are 18 years or older.
- The state of Florida approves your eligibility for the Rapid REPAT program.
- You agree to give your full cooperation to authorities for obtaining necessary travel documents.
One important factor of this program is that you cannot return to the U.S. after your removal. If you do so, authorities have the right to arrest you and send you back to prison to finish your original sentence. They may also take steps to prosecute you for re-entry after deportation and seek enhanced penalties during your trial.
Is this right for you?
If you qualify for Rapid REPAT, you have many factors to consider. In some cases, accepting early release and voluntary removal is preferable if your conviction means deportation at the end of your sentence anyway. However, only you can make that determination.
Nevertheless, before making any decisions or agreeing to any programs that could have such a profound effect on your life, you would be wise to obtain as much information as possible about the options and consequences. Seeking the advice of an immigration attorney is a smart move for anyone in your situation.