- 22 июля 2019, 17:23
- POLITICO. Top Stories
The Trump administration has finalized a plan to bypass immigration courts and deport undocumented immigrants who cannot prove they’ve been present continuously in the U.S. for two years or more, according to an announcement Monday.
The Department of Homeland Security will publish a notice in the Federal Register Tuesday that aims to use the department’s full statutory authority to employ “expedited removal” to a wider range of undocumented immigrants who cross the border illegally.
The expansion is the latest move in President Donald Trump’s crackdown on legal and illegal immigration. Last week, the administration published a regulation that will bar migrants who pass through another country en route to the U.S. from seeking asylum. POLITICO also reported Thursday that an administration official last week pressed to lower the annual refugee admission ceiling to zero, although those deliberations remain ongoing.
The hard-line measures come as Trump appears poised to make immigration a focus of his 2020 reelection campaign.
The American Civil Liberties Union — which has led legal battles against many of Trump‘s restrictive immigration policies — pledged to fight the new measure in court.
“Under this unlawful plan, immigrants who have lived here for years would be deported with less due process than people get in traffic court,” Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a written statement.
While the administration has experimented with a range of restrictive immigration policies, the number of migrants arriving at the southern border soared in recent months to levels not seen in more than a decade. The flow receded in June, but still remains high compared with the same periods during the Obama administration and during Trump’s first year in office.
The expansion of expedited removal could give the administration another tool to swiftly deport people who lack legal status.
POLITICO reported in April that administration officials were forging ahead with an expansion of the fast-track deportation process, a move that has been under consideration since the early days of Trump’s presidency.
A 2004 regulatory change currently limits expedited removal to immigrants who were arrested within 14 days of arrival and caught within 100 miles of a U.S. land border. However, the 1996 statute that created the process allows the speedy removal of people who cannot prove at least two years of continuous presence in the U.S.
The notice set to publish Tuesday will allow the use of the faster process against people caught anywhere in the U.S., not just within the 100-mile border zone.
The expansion of expedited removal could enable federal immigration officers to arrest and deport more migrants without adding to an already lengthy immigration court backlog. The courts have a soaring backlog that’s now approaching 1 million cases, according to data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.
DHS contends the broader application of the speedy removal process will alleviate strain on federal immigration detention centers.
The average time in custody for immigrants processed through expedited removal was roughly 11 days in fiscal 2018, according to data included in an advance Federal Register notice published Monday. For immigrants in full removal proceedings, the time in custody averaged 52 days.
The Trump administration has pressed Congress to provide additional funding for detention beds as the number of jailed immigrants continues to climb. Trump issued an executive order shortly after taking office that called for federal authorities to detain recently arrived migrants to the greatest extent permitted by law. The detention mandate, along with the migrant surge of recent months, has increased pressure on federal detention facilities.
As of July 6, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had nearly 53,000 people in custody, up from an average population of roughly 34,000 in fiscal 2016, the last full year under former President Barack Obama.
The change rolled out Monday could eliminate the ability of thousands of immigrants to contest their removal before an immigration judge. ICE encountered at least 20,570 people in the interior in fiscal 2018 who would be subject to the broader expedited process, according to the notice.
Immigration advocates argue the number of people placed in the fast-track process could be higher as immigrants are forced to demonstrate continuous presence of at least two years in the U.S.
“The criteria in this rule are practically meaningless,” said Kerri Talbot, a director with the pro-migrant Immigration Hub. “It will be nearly impossible for many people to prove at apprehension that they have been in the U.S. for two years and there will be many false and inappropriate arrests based on racial-profiling."
A 2017 report by the San Francisco-based Immigrant Legal Resource Center estimated roughly 328,000 undocumented immigrants would be subject to expedited removal under the parameters put forth in the broad expansion Monday. The estimate excluded migrants likely to receive relief through the asylum system, although the Trump administration also has sought to restrict asylum benefits since the report’s publication.
The new policy will become effective Tuesday upon publication in the Federal Register, with a 60-day public comment period to follow. On a call with reporters Monday, ACLU attorney Anand Balakrishnan blasted the administration’s decision to implement the new measure immediately.
He said it was "far too important a policy“ and “impacts the rights of far too many people“ to have been issued without public feedback.
Many lawsuits targeting Trump immigration policies in recent years have challenged the administration’s adherence to proper regulatory procedures, an issue that could surface here, too.
Federal courts have issued mixed rulings about the rights of immigrants to go before a judge when placed in fast-track deportation proceedings.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in March that asylum seekers have the right to seek federal judicial review of an expedited removal order. The ruling conflicted with a 2016 decision by a separate federal appeals court.
Renuka Rayasam contributed to this report.
Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine