ACLU Challenges Trump Administration's Fast-Track Deportations

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s new rule that expands fast-track deportations — when migrants are denied a court hearing or an attorney prior to their deportation.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the immigrant rights organizations Make The Road New York, La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) and WeCount! It states the Trump administration’s policy, which expedites the removal of undocumented immigrants, is unconstitutional. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, announced in July that it would use fast-track deportations for undocumented immigrants who have lived in the US for less than two years.

In a statement, the ACLU claimed that the prior rule limited fast-track deportations “to a 100-mile zone from the border, to those who arrived by sea, and to those who had been in the US for 14 days or fewer.”

“Hundreds of thousands of people living anywhere in the US are at risk of being separated from their families and expelled from the country without any recourse. This is a dramatic — and illegal — escalation in the Trump administration’s attacks on immigrant communities,” said Anand Balakrishnan, an attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, in the statement.

The complaint calls the new rule “unprecedented” and also notes that it provides “low-level DHS officers” with the authority to unilaterally speed up the deportation process. It also states that more people are subjected to expedited deportations.

“Countless more noncitizens will likely have expedited removal erroneously applied to them, 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 states.

Javier H. Valdes, the co-executive director of Make the Road New York, called the Trump administration’s rule a “reckless effort to deprive people of their fundamental rights.”

“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. We will continue to fight against this administration’s unlawful tactics,” said Javier H. Valdés, co-executive director of Make the Road New York.

The complaint calls the rule “arbitrary and capricious,” alleging it violates the Administrative Procedure Act, Immmigration and Nationality Act, and the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause. Trina Realmuto, the directing attorney of litigation at the American Immigration Council, said this new rule places many people, including US citizens, at risk of wrongful deportation.

“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,” Realmuto said in a statement.

“The administration is well aware of the serious flaws that long have existed in the expedited removal process. This rule exacerbates those problems and places US residents — including U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and asylum-seekers — at serious risk of wrongful deportation.”

In June, then-acting director for ICE, Mark Morgan, told reporters that the agency would continue to intensify the deportations of undocumented immigrants. He noted that while ICE would prioritize those who have a criminal background, no one would be exempt from deportation including families. Morgan also stated that the agency would target undocumented immigrants who have a “final order of removal.”

“I think we can’t exempt anybody,” Morgan previously said at ICE headquarters in Washington, DC. “That will include families.”

On August 7, ICE officials arrested 680 people in the largest immigration raid in the past decade in the US, TIME reported. The raids took place in Mississippi. Immigration lawyers told the publication that dozens of the migrants who were arrested were then released on August 8. It remains unclear if any of the immigrant workers detained were living in the country without documentation.

ICE spokesperson Bryan Cox told the Mississippi Clarion-Ledger that while everyone who was detained would be processed, “not everyone is going to be [permanently] detained.” The ACLU of Mississippi called the raids “unnecessary and cruel.”

“We are deeply concerned that the raids have separated Mississippians’ families, disrupted our local economy, and diverted our state’s limited resources to support Trump’s mass deportation agenda,” ACLU of Mississippi legal director and interim executive director Joshua Tom said in a statement.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.