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ICYMI: Beth Werlin on “The Human Cost of Fast Track Deportation”

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In an eye-opening op-ed for the New York Times, Beth Werlin, executive director of the American Immigration Council, breaks down the Trump administration’s decision to expand the use of expedited removal. As Werlin clearly describes, this cruel decision will “[undermine] American principles of fundamental fairness and [put] United States citizens, permanent residents and asylum-seekers at risk of wrongful deportation.” There is clearly no bottom to the depths of this administration’s brutality and cruelty.

Werlin’s op-ed is excerpted below and available in full in the New York Times here

The Trump administration’s expansion of the use of fast-track deportations through “expedited removal” will create a “show me your papers” regime nationwide in which people — including citizens — may be forced to quickly prove they should not be deported. This policy allows Immigration and Customs Enforcement to quickly deport someone without going before an immigration judge, undermining American principles of fundamental fairness and putting United States citizens, permanent residents and asylum-seekers at risk of wrongful deportation.

For 15 years, the government has been applying expedited removal in a limited way to those within 100 miles of the Canadian or Mexican border who have been in the United States for less than two weeks. The entire process consists of an interview with an immigration officer during which the burden is on the individual to prove a legal right to remain in the United States. One could be questioned, detained and deported very swiftly with little time to consult a lawyer or to gather evidence to prevent deportation. The extremely short timeline of the expedited-removal process increases the chances that a person who is legally entitled to stay in the United States can end up being removed anyway. The government now says it will apply it across the country for many people who cannot prove they have been present in the United States for two years or more. The expansion could affect thousands of people nationwide.

… The process has many shortcomings. First, in expedited removal proceedings, immigration officers serve as both prosecutor and judge — charging someone as deportable and making a final decision to deport him, often all within a day. These rapid deportation decisions fail to take into account many critical factors that an immigration judge would consider, including whether the individual is eligible to apply for lawful status in the United States or whether he has citizen family members.

Second, there is generally no opportunity to consult with a lawyer. Having one can make all the difference. With a lawyer, a person is 10 times more likely to prevail in an immigration case. Moreover, there is typically no judicial oversight, with relatively low-level government officers authorized to issue the deportation orders.

… One hallmark of the American justice system is a fair day in court before an impartial decision maker. This is the ultimate distortion of that system. Rather than strengthening the immigration court system, the administration is planning to bypass it entirely, and the human costs will be great.