On Monday, the Trump Administration announced a change to expand the categories of immigrants approved for expedited removals, circumventing immigration courts by granting DHS and ICE officers “sole and unreviewable discretion” to process deportations.
The notice—which inhumanely refers to undocumented immigrants as “aliens” throughout—became effective Tuesday. Previously, expedited removals were only allowed to occur within 100 miles of an international border, and only if an undocumented immigrant had been in the U.S. for 14 days or less. The new designation dictates immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for up to two years, residing anywhere within the country, are now eligible for expedited removal.
Immigration rights advocates and legal professionals worry expedited removals will impede immigrants’ access to due process.
“This is a national ‘show me your papers’ law,” Royce Murray, a managing director of the American Immigration Council, said to the New York Times. “The burden is on the individual to prove that expedited removal does not apply to them. So, if you don’t have the necessary paperwork on you—to show that you have a lease, or that you have status—then you could be taken into custody to try to fight this. And the problem is that this is a fast-tracked process.”
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Kevin K. McAleenan, defends the increased use of expedited removal, stating its goal is to “address the current immigration crisis” and mitigate additional immigration court backlogs and costs from providing legal representation and running detention centers.
“Fully implementing expedited removal will help to alleviate some of the burden and capacity issues currently faced by DHS and DOJ,” McAleenan writes in the notice, “by allowing DHS to remove certain aliens encountered in the interior more quickly, as opposed to placing those aliens in more time-consuming removal proceedings.”
The notice explains that immigrants who wish to challenge the expedited removal decision made by a DHS or ICE officer will have to prove they have a credible fear of returning to their home country.
Judge Ashley Tabbador, President of the National Association of Immigration Judges, told Ms. that the move limits the number of immigrants who will have access to “regular removal proceedings,” and explained the shorter hearings—known as credible fear reviews—pose difficulties for immigrants and judges.
“Credible fear reviews are very narrow and limited,” Tabbador said. “It’s oftentimes a one shot, maybe a half-hour hearing.” Tabbador explained that judges are sometimes assigned 50 credible fear reviews in a session. “Judges are not allowed to delve deep or allow the respondent to defend with an active counsel.”
Only on its second active day, the policy has already been challenged by American Civil Liberties Union. “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 press release. “We will sue to end this policy quickly.”