A Trump-era policy that allows ICE officers to quickly arrest and deport certain undocumented immigrants without access to a judge was suspended by the Biden administration Thursday after BuzzFeed News obtained government data showing it had been used. several times this year.
“DHS’s review of the expanded expedited removal is ongoing. This particular expedited removal application was used in an extremely small number of cases under the Biden Administration and will not be used in the future until the Department’s review is complete, ”a DHS spokesperson said in a statement.
From January 20 to the end of August, ICE officials said they had deported four immigrants under the policy, including one person who was not in possession of a valid visa in the Dallas area and another who had entered the country to through Texas in late June without authorization. . Prior to January 20, 17 immigrants had been deported since the implementation of the so-called expanded expedited deportation policy last October.
The data provided to BuzzFeed News by ICE appears to be the first public acknowledgment by government officials of the use and scope of the policy.
“The administration is correct in ordering that the expanded expedited removal not be used while the review is ongoing. [Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro] Mayorkas should now act quickly to rescind this Trump-era policy, ”said Anand Balakrishnan, an ACLU attorney who led a lawsuit over the policy.
The controversial effort, which was initially instituted in 2019 by the Trump administration and faced an immediate legal challenge that delayed its deployment, allows ICE officers to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants without a hearing in front of an immigration judge. The policy was blocked by a federal judge in 2019 before an appeals court lifted the preliminary injunction last year. ICE officials then issued guidance for their officers last October on how to use it.
At the time of its implementation, the effort was seen as a way that the Trump administration could increase deportations while circumventing a court system that is severely supported and under-resourced. Immigrant advocates have said it would destroy their due process rights and questioned the use of “expedited removal” outside the border, where it had previously been used. Within the US, ICE officers generally arrest immigrants and subject them to deportation proceedings. These include a hearing before an immigration judge, a process that can take years.
Since last year, questions about the scale and scope of accelerated clearance expansion have remained unanswered.
The data provided to BuzzFeed News also comes months after President Joe Biden ordered Mayorkas in February to review the policy and decide whether to modify, revoke or rescind it. The Biden administration was expected to take steps to undo the policy.
“The review will consider our legal and humanitarian obligations, constitutional principles of due process and other applicable laws, law enforcement resources, public interest, and any other factors consistent with this order that the Secretary deems appropriate,” Biden wrote.
“Expedited removal” is most commonly used within 100 miles of the border and for those who have been in the country for up to two weeks. Border officials have long used expedited clearance near the border, regardless of administrations. However, the changes made by Trump officials were unprecedented. In July 2019, Trump expanded the policy so that expedited deportation could be used anywhere in the country and for anyone who could not prove they had lived in the U.S. for more than two years.
Experts have noted that the vast majority of unauthorized immigrants have lived in the United States for 10 years or more, but said such a policy would instill fear in immigrant communities. What’s more, although ICE officials told officers and prosecutors last year that immigrants could use bank books, leases, school records, employment records, or other materials to prove the length of their presence in the country, advocates They have explained that such information could be difficult to obtain. round up quickly, especially if the person is detained.
In a 2019 lawsuit, the ACLU and the American Immigration Council contested the expansion of expedited removal, noting that the policy allows officers to deport immigrants shortly after they are arrested without the opportunity to speak to their attorneys or meet tests. The new process was a “major change” from a century-long rule of allowing non-citizens in the United States with “notice, access to an attorney, an opportunity to prepare, and a contested hearing when facing removal.”
Since its inception two decades ago, the lawsuit notes, expedited removal has only been authorized in limited circumstances, specifically for those arrested near the border shortly after arrival in the U.S. The group argued that experience with expedited deportation at the border should deter the courts from allowing its use nationwide, and specifically found that the government had improperly deported people, including U.S. citizens, through the process.
“The unprecedented expansion means that low-level DHS officers can now immediately subject hundreds of thousands of additional people to expedited removal, without any consideration of their family ties, including ties to family members of the United States citizens or lawful permanent residents, or their strong ties to their communities, ”the group wrote in its initial complaint.
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