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Civil Rights

Court Will Let Trump Administration Continue to Rapidly Deport Undocumented Migrants

— June 24, 2020

Despite acknowledging the lawsuit’s merits, Judge Patricia Millett said the Department of Homeland Security’s powers are broad enough to effect rapid deportations.

A federal appeals court will allow the Trump administration to continue rapidly deporting undocumented migrants, even as a lawsuit against the practice remains pending.

According to The Hill, a three-judge panel for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a preliminary injunction against the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday.

The Department of Homeland Security, notes The Hill, had recently introduced a policy which permits many undocumented immigrants to be deported without being given the chance to request asylum or consult an attorney.

Interestingly, the judges conceded in a 2-1 ruling that the immigration activists who’d filed the complaint had firm legal standing to sue. However, the Department of Homeland Security has been endowed with such broad powers of enforcement that it is unlikely the lawsuit would succeed.

“There could hardly be a more definitive expression of congressional intent to leave the decision about the scope of expedited removal, within statutory bounds, to the Secretary’s independent judgment,” Judge Patricia Millett wrote on behalf of the majority.

An ICE officer in Florida. Image via U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Flickr. Public domain.

The lone dissenter—Judge Neomi Rao, a Trump appointee with an inclination to deregulation—said the lawsuit should have scrapped entirely.

Nevertheless, several of the groups involved in the lawsuit pledged to appeal. Make the Road New York, for instance, said it would it continue its push to curb the department’s over-arching powers.

“Expanding the expedited removal policy strips immigrants of the fundamental right of due process and destroys families, including those who have lived in the United States for years and are caught up in a dragnet enforcement tool that is prone to error and abuse,” said MRNY co-executive director Javier Valdes. “While we applaud the court’s finding that this change is reviewable, we strongly reject its allowing the policy to take effect. We will continue to fight against Trump’s illegal fast-track deportation policy.”

Congress, notes The Hill, passed a law in 1986 that allows immigration officials to quickly deport undocumented immigrants. But in practice, officials have only exercised their powers to remove migrants apprehended at the border.

Under the Trump administration, fast-track deportations are allegedly affecting individuals and families who have been in the United States for extended periods of time—to stave off expedited removal, a migrant would have to definitively prove that they have been in the country for at least two years.

“The Administration’s unprecedented decision to expand expedited removal to a vast group of noncitizens apprehended anywhere in the United States, and to noncitizens who have been living in the country for long periods, disregards twenty years of experience showing that the expedited removal process, even at the border, is rife with errors and results in widespread violations of individuals’ rights,” the lawsuit states.

The Hill notes that the suit was filed by Make the Road New York, La Union Del Pueblo Entero, and We Count!, in August.


Appeals court says Trump administration can move forward with expanding fast-track deportations

Trump gets path cleared for expedited removal of immigrants

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