Attorney General Becerra Continues to Stand Up Against Trump Administration Rule that Risks Deportation of Lawful Residents

Monday, September 23, 2019
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SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today led a coalition of attorneys general in opposing the Trump Administration’s new rule that vastly expands the use of expedited removal. Under the new rule, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is authorized to deport certain individuals living anywhere in the United States without the due process protections afforded in normal removal proceedings, such as the right to an attorney or a hearing before a judge. In a comment letter, the attorneys general urge the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to rescind the rule, which was issued without advance notice or opportunity for public comment.

“This rule is another Trump Administration attempt to bully vulnerable immigrant families,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Today, 19 states and the District of Columbia are calling on Acting Secretary McAleenan to rescind it. The rule allows line-level immigration officers to kick people out of the country on the spot from anywhere in the United States, with virtually no oversight or review. It is reckless, dangerous, and risks the deportation of lawful residents and legitimate asylum-seekers, who, by law, should be exempt. We’re going to continue to stand with our partners around the country in defense of hard-working immigrants.”

Under the rule, the Trump Administration is expanding the use of expedited removal to allow federal officials to deport undocumented immigrants from anywhere in the United States under a fast-tracked process that generally does not allow for access to legal representation, witnesses, or a meaningful opportunity to present evidence and defenses. The rule significantly increases the risk that people will be erroneously deported and, for those caught up in the proceedings, virtually eliminates the protections afforded during formal immigration hearings.

In 2004, the federal government extended the use of expedited removal to include undocumented individuals who were apprehended within 14 days of arrival in the United States by land and within 100 miles of any land border. Now, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is allowing expedited removal proceedings to be used to deport undocumented immigrants apprehended anywhere in the United States if the individuals cannot establish, to the satisfaction of a line-level immigration officer, that they have continuously resided in the country for two years. Because the rule also lacks a clear legal standard, immigration officials may impose an inconsistent or unclear burden of proof on individuals who have been detained. Despite the great potential for error in this process, it results in final deportation orders that are not generally subject to judicial review. Lawful residents, U.S. citizens, asylees, or other individuals with legal protections that enable them to remain in the country could be, and have been, mistakenly subjected to deportation.

In the comment letter, the attorneys general note that the policy will inflict serious harm on the families and communities in the states. For instance, mixed-status households with both lawful and undocumented residents may be torn apart with little or no time to prepare or seek legal representation. The prospect of sudden and unexpected separation can cause children to experience serious mental health problems, including depression and anxiety. These harms are worsened when fears of forcible family separation come true. In addition, because of the rule, immigrants may be even less likely to report crime or exploitation or seek needed medical care, negatively affecting public safety and health.

Attorney General Becerra remains committed to fighting for the rights of immigrants in California and around the country. Last month, Attorney General Becerra, in an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, called for a preliminary injunction against the federal expansion of expedited removals. He also led a coalition of 20 attorneys general in a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s attempt to eliminate the Flores Settlement Agreement, which provides critical protections for children in immigration custody. Earlier this year, Attorney General Becerra led a lawsuit challenging President Trump’s illegal diversion of funds to construct a wall at the southern border; he released a first-of-its-kind report on civil immigration detention facilities in California; and he denounced a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development proposal that raises the specter of eviction for tens of thousands of Californians.

Joining Attorney General Becerra in the comment letter are the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai’i, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the comment letter is available here.

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