Trump Expands Fast-Track Deportations 07/23 06:26
The Trump administration announced Monday that it will vastly extend the
authority of immigration officers to deport migrants without allowing them to
appear before judges, its second major policy shift on immigration in eight
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The Trump administration announced Monday that it will
vastly extend the authority of immigration officers to deport migrants without
allowing them to appear before judges, its second major policy shift on
immigration in eight days.
Starting Tuesday, fast-track deportations can apply to anyone in the country
illegally for less than two years. Previously, those deportations were largely
limited to people arrested almost immediately after crossing the Mexican border.
Kevin McAleenan, the acting Homeland Security secretary, portrayed the
nationwide extension of "expedited removal" authority as another Trump
administration effort to address an "ongoing crisis on the southern border" by
freeing up beds in detention facilities and reducing a backlog of more than
900,000 cases in immigration courts.
U.S. authorities do not have space to detain "the vast majority" of people
arrested on the Mexican border, leading to the release of hundreds of thousands
with notices to appear in court, McAleenan said in the policy directive to be
published Tuesday in the Federal Register. He said Homeland Security officials
with the new deportation power will deport migrants in the country illegally
more quickly than the Justice Department's immigration courts, where cases can
take years to resolve.
The agency "expects that the full use of expedited removal statutory
authority will strengthen national security, diminish the number of illegal
entries, and otherwise ensure the prompt removal of aliens apprehended in the
United States," McAleenan said.
The American Civil Liberties Union and American Immigration Council said
they would sue to block the policy.
"Under this unlawful plan, immigrants who have lived here for years would be
deported with less due process than people get in traffic court," said Omar
Jawdat, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project.
"Expedited removal" gives enforcement agencies broad authority to deport
people without allowing them to appear before an immigration judge with limited
exceptions, including if they express fear of returning home and pass an
initial screening interview for asylum.
The powers were created under a 1996 law but went largely unnoticed until
2004, when Homeland Security said it would be enforced for people who are
arrested within two weeks of entering the U.S. by land and caught within 100
miles (160 kilometers) of the border.
The fast-track deportations have become a major piece of U.S. immigration
enforcement over the last decade. Critics have said it grants too much power to
immigration agents and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.
The potential impact of the new measure is difficult to predict. McAleenan
said 20,570 people arrested in the nation's interior from October 2017 through
September 2018 year had been in the U.S. less than two years, which would make
them eligible for fast-track deportation under the new rule. Critics said the
new measure's impact could be more far-reaching because many in the U.S for
longer than two years may be unable to prove they have been in the country for
"Expanding the fast-track procedure to apply anywhere in the U.S. is a
recipe for ripping thousands more families apart and devastating communities,"
said Grace Meng, Human Rights Watch's U.S. program acting deputy director.
"This is a massive and dangerous change."
The administration said the expanded authority will likely mean less time
for migrants in detention while cases wind their way through immigration court.
The average stay in immigration detention for people in fast-track removal was
11.4 days from October 2017 through September 2018, compared to 51.5 days for
people arrested in the nation's interior.
The announcement was the second major policy shift in eight days following
an unprecedented surge of families from Central America's Northern Triangle of
Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Last week, the administration said it will deny asylum to anyone who passes
through other countries en route to the U.S. without seeking protection in at
least one of those countries. Two lawsuits were filed challenging the move. A
judge in Washington, D.C., heard arguments Monday on whether to block the
policy. Judge Timothy Kelly said he would "endeavor to rule on this as quickly
as I can."
A judge in San Francisco has set a hearing for Wednesday in a similar
Also Monday, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld
a decision by a federal judge in Seattle that blocked a policy to indefinitely
detain asylum seekers without a chance to be released on bond. The policy to
deny bond hearings had been set to take effect July 15.
The White House issued a statement Monday night saying, "We strongly
disagree with that decision and expect to prevail on the merits of the appeal
and to see the law upheld."