From Tuesday, any migrant who cannot prove that they have been in the United States continuously for more than two years will be immediately deported without a hearing before a judge, a new fast-track deportation process from the Trump administration has said.
The fast-track deportation is the second major policy shift on immigration from the U.S. President Donald Trump in the last eight days. Until now, only people detained within 100 miles of the border who had been in the U.S. for less than two weeks could be deported quickly.
Migrants who were found elsewhere, or had been in the country for more than two weeks, would have to be processed through the courts and would be entitled to legal representation, said a BBC report.
Per the new rules, however, people can be deported irrespective of where in the country they are when they are detained, without a judge’s approval.
In other words, migrants stopped by federal agents anywhere in the country who cannot prove that they have been in the country for more than two years can be deported without a hearing.
In recent months, there has been a political crisis over how to deal with migrants attempting to reach the U.S. The UN Missing Migrants project reports that 170 migrants, including 13 children, have died or are missing on the US-Mexico border so far in 2019. Border Patrol figures show that 283 died last year.
Kevin K. McAleenan, the acting secretary of homeland security, said the new rule would “help to alleviate some of the burden and capacity issues,” including room at detention facilities for immigrants.
But the American Civil Liberties Union, which has filed suit to block numerous Trump immigration policies in court, said it will challenge this latest policy in court.
“We are suing to quickly stop Trump’s efforts to massively expand the expedited removal of immigrants,” the rights group said.
“Immigrants that have lived here for years will have less due process rights than people get in traffic court. The plan is unlawful. Period.”
Vanita Gupta, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, told the media: “The Trump administration is moving forward into converting ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] into a ‘show me your papers’ militia.”
“Expedited removal”, according to the Associated Press, gives enforcement agencies “broad authority to deport people without allowing them to appear before an immigration judge, with limited exceptions, including if they express fear of returning home and pass an initial screening interview for asylum.”
It said the powers were created under a 1996 law but was only noticed in 2004 when homeland security said it would be enforced for people who are arrested within two weeks of entering the U.S. by land and caught within 100 miles of the border.
Critics have said that the policy gives too much power to immigration agents and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.
The Pew Research Centre has said that there are about 10.5 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. with the average undocumented adult immigrant having lived in the country for 15 years.
Critics believe that the new rule could prevent asylum seekers from applying for refuge in the U.S. before they are deported. But U.S. officials have said that migrants who are eligible for asylum will be entitled to speak to an asylum officer, who will access their claims.
The new rule could also make exceptions for those with serious medical conditions or “substantial connections” to the U.S.