The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is considering expanding a deportation policy that could impact up to 440,000 undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
The proposal is currently in a draft regulatory notice. It aims to expand the process known as “expedited removal” to undocumented immigrants present in the United States for two years or more, according to a report by Politico. Currently, expedited removal is only applicable to undocumented immigrants arrested within 14 days of their arrival and within 100 miles of any border.
Expedited removal was first established by Congress in 1996 and allows Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers to bypass the immigration courts and speedily deport undocumented immigrants. In 2004, a regulatory change imposed the two week cut off and limited expedited removal to 100 miles from any border.
According to analysis from Migration Policy Institute, an estimated 835,000 unauthorized immigrants have resided in the United States for less than two years. Of those, approximately 260,000-440,000 entered the country illegally and would be subject to expedited removal under this proposal.
Should DHS follow through with its plans to implement this drafted proposal, those restrictions from the 2004 change would be removed, giving ICE and CBP agents free reign within the interior of the country to arrest undocumented immigrants who have been in the United States for years.
“If they do this, we will have a major, major enforcement action in the interior, targeting people who have already settled here,” Nicolette Glazer, an immigration attorney based in Los Angeles told ThinkProgress.
Eliminating the 100 mile zone and expanding the time in which someone is eligible for expedited removal to two years effectively covers almost anyone who entered the United States illegally. Because the burden of proof is on the immigrant to show that they have lived in the United States for longer than two years, people who, for one reason or another, do not have a Social Security card or even a cell phone in their name will be unable to prove to an immigration law enforcement agent that they have been present in the United States for the last two years or more. These individuals would then be subject to a speedy deportation rather than being placed in regular removal proceedings. The proposal does not cover people who overstay a visa.
“We’re going to end up with people who would normally get a regular bond in front of an immigration judge, get a final order of removal and most likely end up with a fast-tracked, physical removal,” Glazer said, “because few people are going to want to stay in jail to pursue a very limited scope judicial review.”
Reports of this DHS proposal come just weeks after U.S. Attorney General William Barr issued an order that concluded anyone arriving at the southern border without papers can be deported either through expedited removal proceedings or detained throughout the duration of their immigration proceedings. In the same decision, Barr ruled that asylum seekers who have proven they face credible fear in their countries of origin will not be eligible for bond.