U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, received authorization from the Trump administration to begin deporting a lot more immigrants without due process.
The Trump administration announced on Monday that it plans to expand its use of the “expedited removal” deportation, in which immigration officials deport immigrants without a hearing before an immigration judge, for immigrants anywhere in the U.S. who cannot immediately prove to an immigration officer that they have been in the U.S. for two years. This new expansion is set to go into effect on Tuesday, July 23.
The original “expedited removal” deportation program was established in 1966, and expanded by an executive order from President Donald Trump in 2017, according to the American Immigration Council. The law currently allows low-level officials to deport someone without a hearing before an immigration judge if they are in the country without documentation, are within 100 miles of the border, and have been in the country fewer than two weeks.
This new expansion would change that. According to the American Immigration Council, the rule would now allow officers to deport people without a hearing if they are apprehended anywhere throughout the entire country — not just that 100-mile zone. (According to CityLab, over 65 percent of the U.S. population lives within that border zone.) Moreover, the expanded rule would allow those officers to deport folks who have been in the U.S. for fewer than two years — not just two weeks.
The DHS said in a brief first posted to Twitter by the Managing Director of Programs at the AIC, Royce B. Murray, that the change will “enhance national security and public safety — while reducing government costs — by facilitating prompt immigration determinations.”
One of the many fundamental issues with that statement is that it implies that immigrants pose a “public safety” risk to Americans, when, in reality, “foreign-born residents of the United States commit crime less often than native-born citizens,” according to a study by Nazgol Ghandnoosh and Josh Rovner from the Sentencing Project.
Furthermore, expedited removal gives any random immigration officer unbridled authority to deport immigrants they believe have not shown that they “have been physically present” in the U.S. for two years, the DHS brief reads. If an officer doesn’t believe any given immigrant has lived in the U.S. for two years, they can immediately deport them — without a hearing.
“In essence, the immigration officer serves both as prosecutor and judge,” the AIC tweeted on Monday. “Further, given the speed at which the process takes place, there is rarely an opportunity to collect evidence or consult with an attorney, family member, or friend before the decision is made. A dramatic expansion of expedited removal might result in thousands of additional deportations without due process.”
The new rule is the latest in a long line of policy changes and executive orders that target or otherwise impact immigrant people in particular. In January 2017, Trump signed an executive order that effectively banned travel from several Muslim-majority countries; the order was immediately challenged by a number of activists and politicians alike and multiple judges moved to block the order. And in June 2018, the administration implemented its so-called "zero tolerance" policy against migrants who cross the border without prior documentation, which resulted in the separation of thousands of children from their parents. All of this is in addition to xenophobic rhetoric by Trump and his administration that vilifies immigrant people, such as the president's comments calling Haiti and African countries "shitholes" and lies claiming that Mexico was actively sending "criminals" and "rapists" across the border. He has never apologized for any of his comments.
While the newly expanded rule is expected to go into effect soon, it will likely face a number of legal challenges. The American Civil Liberties Union has already said they plan to sue.
“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 Immigrants’ Rights Project of the ACLU, said in a press release. “We will sue to end this policy quickly.”