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Trump Expands Fast-Track Deportations  07/23 06:26

   The Trump administration announced Monday that it will vastly extend the 
authority of immigration officers to deport migrants without allowing them to 
appear before judges, its second major policy shift on immigration in eight 
days.

   SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The Trump administration announced Monday that it will 
vastly extend the authority of immigration officers to deport migrants without 
allowing them to appear before judges, its second major policy shift on 
immigration in eight days.

   Starting Tuesday, fast-track deportations can apply to anyone in the country 
illegally for less than two years. Previously, those deportations were largely 
limited to people arrested almost immediately after crossing the Mexican border.

   Kevin McAleenan, the acting Homeland Security secretary, portrayed the 
nationwide extension of "expedited removal" authority as another Trump 
administration effort to address an "ongoing crisis on the southern border" by 
freeing up beds in detention facilities and reducing a backlog of more than 
900,000 cases in immigration courts.

   U.S. authorities do not have space to detain "the vast majority" of people 
arrested on the Mexican border, leading to the release of hundreds of thousands 
with notices to appear in court, McAleenan said in the policy directive to be 
published Tuesday in the Federal Register. He said Homeland Security officials 
with the new deportation power will deport migrants in the country illegally 
more quickly than the Justice Department's immigration courts, where cases can 
take years to resolve.

   The agency "expects that the full use of expedited removal statutory 
authority will strengthen national security, diminish the number of illegal 
entries, and otherwise ensure the prompt removal of aliens apprehended in the 
United States," McAleenan said.

   The American Civil Liberties Union and American Immigration Council said 
they would sue to block the policy.

   "Under this unlawful plan, immigrants who have lived here for years would be 
deported with less due process than people get in traffic court," said Omar 
Jawdat, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project.

   "Expedited removal" 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.

   The powers were created under a 1996 law but went largely unnoticed until 
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 (160 kilometers) of the border.

   The fast-track deportations have become a major piece of U.S. immigration 
enforcement over the last decade. Critics have said it grants too much power to 
immigration agents and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.

   The potential impact of the new measure is difficult to predict. McAleenan 
said 20,570 people arrested in the nation's interior from October 2017 through 
September 2018 year had been in the U.S. less than two years, which would make 
them eligible for fast-track deportation under the new rule. Critics said the 
new measure's impact could be more far-reaching because many in the U.S for 
longer than two years may be unable to prove they have been in the country for 
so long.

   "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, Human Rights Watch's U.S. program acting deputy director. 
"This is a massive and dangerous change."

   The administration said the expanded authority will likely mean less time 
for migrants in detention while cases wind their way through immigration court. 
The average stay in immigration detention for people in fast-track removal was 
11.4 days from October 2017 through September 2018, compared to 51.5 days for 
people arrested in the nation's interior.

   The announcement was the second major policy shift in eight days following 
an unprecedented surge of families from Central America's Northern Triangle of 
Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

   Last week, the administration said it will deny asylum to anyone who passes 
through other countries en route to the U.S. without seeking protection in at 
least one of those countries. Two lawsuits were filed challenging the move. A 
judge in Washington, D.C., heard arguments Monday on whether to block the 
policy. Judge Timothy Kelly said he would "endeavor to rule on this as quickly 
as I can."

   A judge in San Francisco has set a hearing for Wednesday in a similar 
lawsuit.

   Also Monday, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld 
a decision by a federal judge in Seattle that blocked a policy to indefinitely 
detain asylum seekers without a chance to be released on bond. The policy to 
deny bond hearings had been set to take effect July 15.

   The White House issued a statement Monday night saying, "We strongly 
disagree with that decision and expect to prevail on the merits of the appeal 
and to see the law upheld."


(KR)

 
 
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