ACLU Sues Trump Over Expansion of No-Judge Deportations

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(Bloomberg) -- The Trump administration was sued by a civil rights group over its plan to expand nationwide a rule that lets U.S. border agents speed up the deportation of undocumented immigrants without a court hearing or access to a lawyer.

Such fast-track deportations have been available to immigration officials for two decades in cases where undocumented individuals were apprehended within 100 miles of the U.S. border. Now, under a rule put in place July 23, the process can be used on undocumented immigrants nationwide.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Washington, the American Civil Liberties Union said the plan will illegally deprive thousands of immigrants of their constitutional right to due process and put legal immigrants and U.S. citizens at risk of being deported without seeing a judge.

“It’s a system without any meaningful checks,“ Anand Balakrishnan, an attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in an interview. “They could pick someone up who wasn’t even removable and subject them to expedited removal.”

The process applies to undocumented immigrants who can’t prove they’ve been in the U.S. for at least two years, meaning individuals may need to have documentation on hand or risk being separated from their families. Balakrishnan said such errors have already been documented even with the limited use of the expedited removal process under earlier administrations.

The Department of Homeland Security didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

President Donald Trump called for an expansion of the expedited removal process as part of an immigration executive order in January 2017, the month he took office. It’s part of a larger goal to deport millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S., many of whom have established families and jobs in the country.

“No prior administration has authorized such broad use of expedited removal against non-citizens who have resided in the country for significant periods or who have been apprehended in the interior of the country, far from the border,” according to the complaint.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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