The Trump administration on Monday announced its intention to vastly expand the population of undocumented immigrants who are eligible for expedited removal from the United States without due process, directly tying the policy with attempts to relieve pressure on overcrowded immigration detention facilities—even as immigrant rights groups argue that the two issues are not related.
In a notice released by the Department of Homeland Security on Monday morning, the administration announced that adult undocumented immigrants who fail to prove “that they have been physically present in the United States continuously for [a] two-year period” can face expedited removal—that is, physical removal from the country on the order of an immigration officer without going through the normal deportation process, including hearings before an immigration judge.
The effect of the change, the notice states, “will be to enhance national security and public safety—while reducing government costs—by facilitating prompt immigration determinations.” Citing Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan’s “sole and unreviewable discretion,” the notice declares that a more expansive eligibility for expedited removal is necessary “in light of the ongoing crisis at the southern border, the large number of aliens who entered illegally and were apprehended and detained within the interior of the United States, and DHS’s insufficient detention capacity both along the border and in the interior of the United States.”
The policy, set to go into effect on Tuesday, is the latest—and one of the most aggressive—moves by the Trump administration to crack down on undocumented immigrants in the United States.
Since expedited removal was created with the passage of the Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, summary removal without normal due process protections has been applied nearly exclusively to adult undocumented immigrants apprehended within 14 days of entering the United States—and within 100 miles of the U.S.-Mexico or U.S.-Canada borders. The immigration court hearing backlog has been increasingly strained under the Trump administration, as deportation proceedings can take years to reach their conclusion.
By giving U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents nearly unchecked authority to facilitate removal, the new Trump policy “could result in thousands of additional deportations without due process,” according to the American Immigration Council.
Immigrants-rights groups swiftly condemned the new policy, and vowed to take the administration to 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 Immigrants’ Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement provided to The Daily Beast. “We will sue to end this policy quickly.”
The American Immigration Council echoed the ACLU’s statement, vowing to “see the Trump administration in court.”
Kursten Phelps, director of legal and social services at the Tahirih Justice Center called the proposal an “assault on due process and protections that will harm immigrant survivors.”
Buzzfeed News reported last month that the Trump administration was considering a dramatic increase in the number of immigrants eligible for expedited removal, one of several new immigration policy proposals intended to more easily facilitate deportations, limit access to the country by those seeking asylum, and target undocumented families for removal.