The new law's defenders argue that, inevitably, in the course of dealing with the huge number of applicants the INS processes, there will be problems. But if anything, the agency should be commended that there aren't more. Critics of expedited removal admit it has been difficult to find cases, but they cite the haste and hermetic atmosphere under which expedited removal occurs as reasons that more haven't surfaced. "What you are seeing are only those who can hire an attorney and complain loudly," says Charles Wheeler, the immigration attorney in San Francisco. "I shudder to think of how many are returned who didn't complain because they don't want to make a big splash or would rather go back to consult with the consulate and try again."
Critics of the new law also like to raise the analogy of how Americans would react if they suffered expedited removal from a foreign country. "If this happened to a U.S. citizen in another country," Washington attorney Gallagher says, "we'd probably boycott them."
Expedited removal has certainly done nothing to improve the image of the United States abroad. "There have been complaints from people who say they had visas but at the airport they weren't allowed in," reports a Venezuelan diplomat who didn't want to criticize the U.S. government publicly. "Miami is a place that really attracts people to shop, and it will affect ... people who saved their money to come as tourists and are turned around at the airport."
And Elba Wood recalls that as she sat in the crowded waiting room of secondary detention, one of her fellow detainees joked aloud in Spanish: "When they raise a war against these people, I will volunteer." Wood looked around the room and found she wasn't the only one nodding her head in agreement.
But in the end, it may take high-profile cases like that of Guillermo Pena and the Falk Corporation to force the INS to scale back. "Miami is a place where businessmen come every day, and what's going on could adversely affect our economy," says attorney Cheryl Little. If Congress or the courts, based on the errors of district offices like Miami, render a judgment against the law as it now stands, it won't be because the INS office in Washington, D.C., didn't warn its agents in the field.