Migrants of undocumented status who have been in the United States for less than two years are now facing the very real possibility that they could be deported without ever seeing a judge.
According to Al Jazeera, The Trump administration announced that it has expanded the group of people who are subject to its “expedited removal” process. Starting Tuesday (July 23), thousands of immigrants will be subject to deportation without a day in court. In the past, these “fast-track deportations” were primarily reserved for people who were captured and arrested immediately after crossing from Mexico.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the American Immigration Council (AIC) plan to file a lawsuit to block the change, Al Jazeera reports. Omar Jawdat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, called the plan “unlawful” before adding, “immigrants who have lived here for years would be deported with less due process than people get in traffic court.” Advocates say “as many as 300,000 people could find themselves being targeted for the immediate deportation plan.”
Rights groups also worry that fast-track deportations will essentially legalize profiling on the basis of ethnicity and race. “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, acting deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s U.S. Program, told Al Jazeera. “This is a massive and dangerous change.”
A statement on the policy change from the Department of Homeland Security says that, “The Immigration and Nationality Act gives the Acting Secretary ‘sole and unreviewable discretion’ to designate certain aliens as subject to expedited removal pursuant to a 1996 law.”
According to Al Jazeera, the average length of stay in detention for someone slated for fast-track removal is 11.4 days, versus an average of 51.5 days for those who are not.