ACLU files suit challenging expedited deportations rule

Violations of due process clause among allegations

A lawsuit filed Tuesday challenges the Trump administration’s expedited deportations of “certain aliens” that began July 23 after stating it would help with the “humanitarian crisis” at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The American Civil Liberties Union, American Immigration Council, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP filed a federal lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C., on behalf of immigrant community organizations Make the Road New York, We Count! and local advocacy group, La Unión del Pueblo Entero, or LUPE, of San Juan, according to the filing.

The 38-page document alleges violations of the Administrative Procedure Act, Immigration and Nationality Act, and the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause.

The ACLU of the District of Columbia is co-counsel.

(Read the Lawsuit)

“This case concerns the Trump Administration’s recent decision to dramatically expand ‘expedited removal,’ under which low-level Department of Homeland Security (‘DHS’) immigration officers summarily deport individuals from the United States without any court hearing or opportunity for meaningful review,” the lawsuit’s introduction read.

“DHS deports individuals subject to expedited removal soon after apprehension, without any opportunity to speak with an attorney; to gather evidence or call witnesses; or to present a claim for relief from removal, other than a truncated process for expressing fear of persecution.”

In addition, they argue in the filing’s introduction that the expedited removal process is a “major departure from a consistent century-long norm of providing all noncitizens within the United States with notice, access to counsel, an opportunity to prepare, and a contested hearing when they face removal.”

On July 22, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan announced the expedited removal of “certain aliens encountered anywhere in the country within two years of illegal entry.”

Specifically, the expanded rule targets immigrants across the country who cannot prove they have been in the country continuously for two or more years.

Before the designation took effect, expedited removal was limited to a 100-mile zone from the border; to those who arrived by sea; and to those who had been in the country for 14 days or less.

The day before it went into effect, McAleenan said the new designation would 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 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 July 22. “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.”

But an attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, Anand Balakrishnan, said the new rule is just another attack on immigrant communities across the country from the Trump administration.

“Hundreds of thousands of people living anywhere in the U.S. are at risk of being separated from their families and expelled from the country without any recourse,” Balakrishnan stated in a prepared release.

LUPE Executive Director Juanita Valdez-Cox said the organization works to support policies that are fair, humane and sensible for immigrant communities.

She characterizes the new rule as “reckless,” and designed to terrorize the immigrant community, which only causes pain for Latino and Hispanic families.

“… (Immigrants) should not be stripped of their rights and ripped from their communities because of fast-tracked deportations that target any ‘foreign-looking’ person not carrying on them documentation of their life here,” Valdez-Cox said in the release. “…But we will not let fear win.”