Acting Secretary Kevin K. McAleenan of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday a new designation for expedited deportation that “applies to certain aliens encountered anywhere in the country within two years of illegal entry,” according to a news release.
McAleenan announced the new designation will help the ongoing “humanitarian crisis” along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Since the beginning of the year, Central American families — mostly from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras — have been arriving at ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border. Most seek asylum.
DHS officials say these large groups and the overcrowding created by their arrival left U.S. Border Patrol agents, in addition to Customs and Border Protection, executing more menial tasks while they process them, leaving the border unguarded and less safe.
The new designation is designed to “allow DHS to more quickly remove certain aliens encountered in the interior.”
This is part of the agency’s efforts to alleviate “some of the burden and capacity issues” currently faced by DHS and the Department of Justice, the release read.
“The new designation adds one more tool for DHS — utilizing specific authority from Congress — to confront the ongoing security and humanitarian crisis on the southwest border and throughout the country,” McAleenan stated in the release. “We are past the breaking point and must take all appropriate action to enforce the law, along the U.S. borders and within the country’s interior.
“This designation makes it clear that if you have no legal right to be here, we will remove you.”
The release goes on to cite the “Immigration and Nationality Act” as the law established in 1996 that gives McAleenan “sole and unreviewable discretion” to designate certain undocumented immigrants as subject to expedited removal.
According to DHS, the authority has been used before, including in 2002, when an expedited notice was applied to “certain aliens encountered anywhere in the United States for up to two years after arrival by sea.”
“The new designation is separate from, but complements, a 2004 designation that applies to aliens encountered within 14 days of entry and within 100 miles of the border,” the release stated.
Unaccompanied children who are undocumented — a large segment of those arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border seeking asylum — are not subject to expedited removal under the new or any previous designation.
“Additionally, any alien who indicates an intention to apply for asylum or expresses a fear of persecution, of torture, or of returning to his or her country, will be referred for an interview with an asylum officer,” the release read.
In line with what has been consistent with the agency’s stance on the reasons for the “crisis,” McAleenan calls for lawmakers to act and address what has been referred to as “loopholes” in the immigration system.
“Congress must address the vulnerabilities in our legal framework. In the meantime, the Department must utilize the tools expressly provided by Congress to continue confronting the crisis,” the release read.