“This administration continues to seek efficiency over safety and due process for migrant families.”
Immigrant rights advocates are decrying what some called an “appalling” Monday night announcement by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security thatunder the Biden administration will return to the use of an “expedited removal” process to send families seeking asylum back over the U.S.-Mexico border if they can’t convince immigration agents that they need refuge in the United States.
Groups including Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center and the ACLU had hoped the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) would revoke Title 42, under which the federal government has had the authority to send to Mexico any undocumented immigrants who attempt to cross the southern U.S. border.
Instead, DHS on Monday said that some families, many of whom Mexican officials have refused to accept under Title 42, “will be placed in expedited removal proceedings” to provide “a lawful, more accelerated procedure to remove those family units who do not have a basis under U.S. law to be in the United States. ”
“The announcement we had been hoping for was about an end to Title 42,” Linda Rivas, executive director of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, Texas, told the New York Times. “This administration continues to seek efficiency over safety and due process for migrant families.”
Under the policy, immigrant families who are intercepted by immigration agents at the border will be screened promptly to determine if they have a “credible fear” of persecution or violence in their home country which led them to seek asylum.
If an agent determines there is no credible fear, families will be expelled from the country without an immigration judge hearing their case.
The policy has been used by both Democratic and Republican administrations in the past.
Before Monday’s announcement, thousands of families who Mexico would not accept under Title 42 have been sent by U.S. Border Patrol agents to stay in shelters while they wait to appear in immigration court.
The departure from that system “is not due process,” tweeted Camille Mackler, founder and executive director of Immigrant ARC, which provides legal services to immigrants and was formed after legal advocates descended on John F. Kennedy International Airport to provide support to immigrants when the Trump administration announced its travel ban in January 2017.
The expedited removal “procedure” involves sitting across a desk from a government agent signing a deportation order. There is no ability to see a judge, consult with a legal advocate (much less an attorney), or otherwise understand the process. This is not due process. https://t.co/Ii6wkRAjnS
— Camille J. Mackler (@cmackler) July 27, 2021
Robyn Barnard, senior advocacy counsel at Human Rights First, described “how due process is run roughshod by expedited removal.”
The whole point of expedited removal is to summarily deport ppl w/out seeing a judge to make their claim for asylum. DHS locks them up in prisons while they effect these summary deportations & it all happens in quick succession to make it cheaper for govt
— Robyn Barnard (@robynyakira) July 27, 2021
“There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to seek asylum,” Barnard tweeted. “It is a legal right to be able to do so however you get here. When you block the ports [under Title 42] and leave people in desperate and dangerous situations, what other options do they have?”
Heidi Altman, policy director at the National Immigrant Justice Center, called the DHS announcement “vile.”
This statement is vile: vaguely threatening to punish families for how they flee, using sterile terms like “family units” and “accelerated procedure” to talk about deporting parents and children to harm. @DHSgov: Expedited removal sends asylum seekers back to harm. End it. https://t.co/SEnQSCtmVw
— Heidi Altman (@heidiraltman) July 27, 2021