Frontera Fund News Trump Watch

Can Immigration Agents Revoke Green Cards at Ports of Entry?

Written by Carmen Cornejo

Yes, and it happened recently under coercion at U.S. airports.

During the initial hours of the travel ban against seven majority-Muslim countries, two Yemeni brothers detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) were unlawfully coerced into relinquishing their green cards and were later returned to Ethiopia, according to a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Tareq Aziz, 21, and Ammar Aziz, 19, were detained, handcuffed and forced to sign papers after arriving at Dulles airport in Virginia. The brothers were on their way to Michigan, where they were planning to reunite with their father, Aqel Aziz, a U.S. citizen.

After being detained in the inspection area by CBP agents, the brothers were forced to sign form I-407, which relinquishes their claims to lawful permanent residency in the United States. CBP officers tricked them into signing this document, which they did not understand, falsely telling them that if they did not sign a relinquishment of their legal rights, they would be formally removed and barred from re-entering the country for five years.

You can read the lawsuit filed by lawyers on behalf of the Yemeni brothers here. The lawsuit says that, like the brothers, some of the other 60 petitioners were also coerced into signing I-407 forms while in custody at the airport. 

How could this happen?

Border patrol officers have the power to decide whether returning green card holders are living outside the United States and, if they believe they are, can take steps to have the green card revoked or canceled.

A green card holder (a legal permanent resident) must live in the U.S. Any trip outside the country should be a temporary visit.

The belief that you live in another country can cause CBP agents to conclude that you have “abandoned” (given up) your U.S. residence.

Only American citizens may live in another country without losing U.S. citizenship.

However, it’s very possible that these were not the reasons CBP agents forced the brothers to sign the I-407 form.

In these uncertain times, when anti-immigrants are taking control of the country and especially immigration agencies, all immigrants must be ready to defend their rights.

If you re-enter the U.S., are detained in customs, and the CBP present you with form I-407, DO NOT SIGN IT.

Read more about the lives affected by President Trump’s Muslim travel ban.