Everyone’s entitled to their day in court—except illegal immigrants, apparently.
At least, that’s the Trump administration’s position, in light of its recent expansion of the “fast-track” deportation process. The Associated Press reports that in an attempt to address the crisis on our southern border, immigration authorities have extended the “expedited removal” process to apply to millions more immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. This process allows for the deportation of these immigrants without any appearance before an immigration judge, a shortcut previously reserved for illegal immigrants who had just crossed the border.
A Threat to Due Process
Now, it will apply to any illegal immigrant who has spent less than two years in the country, which potentially includes millions who live, work, and even have children in America. While immigration enforcement is important and the border crisis in dire need of a solution, this is a misstep from the Trump administration. It threatens the right to due process that all people ought to enjoy.
Yet Trump officials
expect that the full use of expedited removal statutory authority will strengthen national security, diminish the number of illegal entries, and otherwise ensure the prompt removal of aliens apprehended in the United States.
Yes, there’s a backlog in our immigration courts that’s interfering with proper, timely immigration enforcement, but the solution there is to expand the number of immigration judges and expedite the judicial process, not skip it entirely.
Of course, expedited removal does make sense for recent border crossers. If immigration officers catch some sneaking across the border, they shouldn’t have to take them to court before sending them back. But once someone has lived and worked in the United States for two years, they are at the very least entitled to their day in court before being apprehended and deported. Anything less is a betrayal of the principles of due process that make our constitutional system the best in human history.
As the American Civil Liberties Union’s Omar Jawdat told the AP,
Under this unlawful plan, immigrants who have lived here for years would be deported with less due process than people get in traffic court.
Clearly, this kind of system is rife for abuse.
After all, how are immigration authorities supposed to know who has been here for two years and who hasn’t? It’s not as if illegal immigrants have documentation to prove when they arrived. So in expanding the fast-track deportation process, immigration officials are essentially paving the way for it to be used against many of the millions of illegal immigrants in our country. No matter your views on immigration policy, you should oppose the carrying out of such enforcement without proper process and respect for the rights of all involved.
Take, for example, the case of Francisco Erwin Galicia, the American-born citizen immigration authorities recently mistook for an illegal immigrant and subjected to abuse so bad he almost self-deported anyway.Enforcing our nation’s laws is of the utmost importance. But so, too, is respecting the dignity and rights of all who live in the land of the free. He claims he lost nearly 30 pounds due to hunger while in custody, and wasn’t allowed to shower. It’s certainly true that these horror stories in immigration enforcement are rare, but giving government officials overly broad and dangerously expansive powers exponentially increases the chances of abuse.
Beth Werlin of the left-leaning American Immigration Council said the Trump administration’s new policy “denies a fair day in court to people who could face death when sent back to their countries.” She makes a chilling point.
Enforcing our nation’s laws is of the utmost importance. But so, too, is respecting the dignity and rights of all who live in the land of the free—something the Trump administration’s expansion of fast-track deportation simply doesn’t do.