U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) must observe certain rules when it comes to deportation. In many cases, immigrants are entitled to a court hearing, for which they may secure legal counsel. However, recent changes have expanded fast-tracked deportation, which allows removal to proceed without a hearing.
These changes are concerning for immigration watchdogs and legal groups, but they are especially troubling to immigrants currently residing in the U.S. The major concern is that a person who is in this country legally may not be able to provide sufficient proof to ICE agents before they are deported. This could lead to legal immigrants being removed without due process.
Expansion of expedited removal law
According to CBS News, expedited removal has been allowed since 1996. However, it was only used in specific situations. If an immigrant was caught within 100 miles of an international border, established to have been in the U.S. for at least two weeks, and could not provide proof of legal entry, they could be subject to an expedited deportation.
Under the newly revised law, immigrants can be subject to expedited removal if found anywhere in the country, if they have lived in the country for less than two years, and cannot provide proof of legal residence.
Concerns about providing too much power to ICE agents
There are exceptions to expedited removal, and agents are allowed to use discretion on a case by case basis. For instance, they may choose not to remove a person who is the primary caregiver of children who are legal residents. They can also use discretion if the person has a legitimate fear of persecution in their country of origin.
However, legal officials point to the possibility that agents will not behave neutrally or according to the law, as is the case in a court setting. While the stated focus of expedited deportation are those engaging in criminal wrongdoing, some claim that the changes are politically motivated.
If you have no legal immigration status in the United States, you should talk to an experienced attorney now to discuss your options for the path to legal immigration status.