The federal lawsuit challenges a new Department of Homeland Security rule expanding expedited removal proceedings that deny migrants a court hearing.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the American Immigration Council have sued the Trump administration over a new rule expanding fast-track deportations that deny migrants a court hearing or access to an attorney.
The federal lawsuit filed Tuesday asks the U.S. district court in Washington, D.C., to block the Department of Homeland Security from continuing its expansion of expedited removal proceedings that has sparked fear in immigrant communities nationwide.
The rule, which went into effect July 23, expands the authority of immigration officers to deport migrants without allowing them to appear before judges. Previously, fast-track deportations were mostly limited to people within 100 miles of the border who have been in the country for less than two weeks.
Now they apply to anyone in the country illegally for less than two years, even though many who have been in the U.S. for longer might not be able to prove they’ve been in the country for so long.
“The expansion of fast-track deportations will strip hundreds of thousands of noncitizens of a fair hearing on whether they are to be deported from their families, friends, and communities in the United States and will create a ‘show me your papers’ regime nationwide,” Trina Realmuto, directing attorney of litigation at the American Immigration Council, said in a statement.
The lawsuit says more people are likely to be wrongly subjected to expedited deportations because “current procedures place the burden of proof on the individual to show that he or she is not subject to expedited removal, yet fail to provide time or a meaningful opportunity for the individual to do so.”
The lawsuit calls the expansion of expedited removal “arbitrary and capricious,” alleging the rule violates Fifth Amendment due process rights, federal immigration laws and the Administrative Procedure Act.
The two groups filed the complaint with law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP on behalf of immigrant community organizations Make the Road New York, La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) and WeCount!
“This reckless effort to deprive people of their fundamental rights will place countless immigrants at risk, including many people who have been in the United States for years,” Javier H. Valdés, co-executive director of Make the Road New York, said in a statement. “Our youth and transgender members would be particularly vulnerable to wrongfully being subject to this expanded expedited removal, as they often lack documents proving their extended presence in the country.”
Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan said at the time of the rule’s implementation that the expansion of expedited removal will help open up space in migrant detention centers and reduce the mounting backlog of cases in immigration court. But critics have stressed the expansion gives too much power to agents with Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The fast-track deportation expansion came just a week after the Trump administration announced it would deny asylum to anyone who passes through other countries on the way to the U.S. without seeking protection there first. The rule was meant to reduce the number of asylum-seekers coming from Central America. A federal judge in California temporarily blocked the policy, but a Trump-appointed judge in Washington, D.C., declined to halt the rule.