DHS Looking to Expand Deportation
By Reuben Seguritan
In the hopes of deterring more immigrants from entering the country under unlawful means, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is currently looking into expanding its expedited removal powers.
Under expedited removal, which was authorized by Congress in 1996, noncitizens who are found to be deportable will be sent back to their home country without giving them a day in court. This power of the DHS was exclusively used in the borders but during the administration of George Bush, the DHS was authorized to do expedited removals to immigrants who had been living in the country illegally for less than two weeks and were apprehended within 100 miles of the border.
It is more likely that these immigrants have no ties to the US such as family, friends, employment, and community, making it easier to justify speedy removal.
Under the proposal, DHS would be authorized to seek the expedited removal of illegal immigrants apprehended anywhere in the United States who cannot prove they have lived in the country continuously for more than 90 days.
As of now, this proposal is still under review but this would not require the approval of Congress, which creates apprehension, if not fear, among immigrants and immigrant rights advocates. Many fear that this will give rise to a number of violations of human rights and due process.
Deputy Director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants Rights Project, Lee Gelernt said that this move is a recipe for disaster. “Right now, someone apprehended in St. Louis would be entitled to a full hearing,” Gelernt said. “With expedited removal, you pick a person up, and they could be gone immediately. Once you start instituting summary removal processes all over the country, then you can start seeing mass deportations.”
Trump administration officials, however, are saying that this move will focus the resources of DHS to removing persons who have been illegally present for relatively brief periods of time while still observing due-process requirements. This will also enhance national security and public safety by clearing up the dockets of immigration courts that have led to delays in hearings for more than two years.
DHS Spokesperson Joanne F. Talbot stressed that the expansion of DHS powers is allowed under federal law. She also said that immigrants placed into the expedited process under the new guidelines would still be afforded the opportunity to claim a credible fear of persecution or torture and to be interviewed by an asylum officer who would determine whether said fear is credible. If credible fear is found, said immigrants would be referred to an immigration judge for further consideration of their case, just as they are now.
Unaccompanied minors will also not be subject of expedited removal, assured Trump officials, just as they are under the current DHS policy.