At the New Republic today is a great piece on expedited removals, which account for roughly 40% of deportations. The Obama Administration is deporting roughly 400,000 immigrants a year, at such a breakneck pace that many of those removed are not benefiting from due process. The vast majority who are deported don’t get to go before a judge, which means they’re unable to make a case for why they should be allowed to stay. Immigration prosecution and enforcement is up, but resources for immigration courts have not kept up, which means that the backlog of immigration cases is only growing. Read more below or at the New Republic:
Advocates are upset about more than the sheer number of deportations. They are also unhappy with the way these deportations are taking place. In most cases, the government doesn’t provide immigrants with due process before returning them. At least three-quarters of people deported in 2012 didn’t get a hearing from an immigration judge, according to statistics from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
But starting in 2005, the Department of Homeland Security increased use of a second procedure known as “expedited removal.” This is a formal process, in which the deportee never sees a judge, but the removal still goes on his or her permanent record. That’s a big deal, because it can trigger much harsher penalties if that person ever tries to enter the country again.
Immigration advocates say that rendering a judgment with such steep consequences—if you’ve been deported once, returning to the U.S. makes you a candidate for felony charges and a top priority for ICE agents—without a trial violates the fundamental values of U.S. society. But they have a more immediate concern, too—that many of the immigrants sent home without a hearing don’t know their rights, and don’t realize they could make a legal case to stay in the U.S. if they could only get before a judge…
Why do fewer than a quarter of deportees ever get to see a judge? In part, because it’s the only way for ICE to reach its goal of deporting somewhere in the ballpark of 400,000 people a year. While funding for ICE and the Border Patrol swelled in the Bush years, funding for the system of immigration courts, which handle removal hearings, remained low—and it has in the Obama years, too. As a result, there are 363,239 immigration cases pending nationwide, according to the latest count by TRAC, a data analysis project at Syracuse University. The only way for ICE stay on schedule is to bypass the courts.