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ACLU Sues Over Trump's Fast-Tracked Deportations Policy

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The American Civil Liberties Union challenged the Trump administration’s broad expansion of deportation powers, alleging in a federal lawsuit Tuesday that it violates constitutional rights and could lead to errors, including deporting U.S. citizens.

The lawsuit called the extension of a policy allowing immigration officers to deport migrants without requiring them to appear before judges both “dramatic” and “illegal.”

Previously, the policy applied to those caught within 100 miles of the U.S. border and who had been in the country under two weeks.

Last month the Trump administration announced that immigration agents can now apply it anywhere nationwide to those in the country less than two years.

The ACLU argued the expansion essentially gives low-level immigration officers the power to indiscriminately deport anyone without meaningful review, like a hearing or having an attorney.

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“A closed proceeding without any external scrutiny will always be arbitrary,” ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project Attorney Anand Balakrishnan said.

“It will always be unchecked and create too much room for error,” she added.

The complaint cites several instances where federal agents using the initial “expedited removal” authority wrongly deported U.S. citizens, including a case in 2000 involving a U.S. citizen who was mentally disabled.

The woman was unable to convince immigration agents that she was an American citizen after returning from visiting relatives in Jamaica and was deported.

Filed on behalf of immigrant advocacy groups in Texas, New York and Florida, the lawsuit names the heads of the Department of Homeland Security and several agencies it oversees. That includes Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.

Messages left with agency spokesmen weren’t immediately returned Tuesday.

Expedited removal authority gives immigration agencies wide power to deport illegal immigrants with limited exceptions, including if they express fear of returning home and pass an initial interview for asylum.

The policy, which has been around since 1996, has become a central part of immigration enforcement in the last decade.

President Donald Trump first announced he would expand such powers just after taking office as part of his promise to crack down on illegal immigration.

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Last month, Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan touted the expansion as a way to address an “ongoing crisis on the southern border” by freeing up beds in detention centers and reducing the immigration courts backlog.

The announcement left immigration attorneys scrambling, with some advising their clients to collect as much documentation as possible to prove they’ve been in the U.S.

Roughly 300,000 immigrants living in the country illegally could be affected, according to the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute. The complaint also alleges that U.S. permanent residents and asylum seekers are at risk.

“Hundreds of thousands of people living anywhere in the U.S. are at risk of being separated from their families and expelled from the country without any recourse,” Balakrishnan said.

“This is a dramatic — and illegal — escalation in the Trump administration’s attacks on immigrant communities.”

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

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