Attorney General James Fights Against Trump Administration Rule That Increases Risk Of Erroneous Deportation 

Attorney General James Fights Against Trump Administration
Rule That Increases Risk of Erroneous Deportation

NEW YORK – Attorney General Letitia James, along with a coalition of 21 additional attorneys general, filed an amicus brief opposing the Trump Administration’s legally flawed attempts to immediately expand the use of expedited removal of immigrants. Expedited removal is a fast-tracked process to deport immigrants that generally does not allow for access to legal representation, witnesses, or a meaningful opportunity to present evidence and defenses. Individuals are exempt from expedited removal if they have a credible or reasonable fear of persecution or torture in their country of origin. In July 2019, the Trump Administration announced that it was expanding expedited removal to cover many more individuals than ever before. In September 2019, a federal district court issued a preliminary injunction preventing this expansion from going into effect, which the Administration then appealed. In the amicus brief, the coalition urges the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to uphold the injunction.

“Once again, the Trump Administration is putting the lives of countless immigrants at risk simply to fulfill its xenophobic agenda,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “The expedited removal process denies basic and necessary legal protections to immigrants, which has resulted in wrongful deportations, unnecessary family separations, and has had chilling effects on communities throughout the country. We will not allow this administration to continue to trample on our laws or our morals.”

The states in the coalition are home to hundreds of thousands of immigrants who have come to this country because they fear persecution, torture, or violence in their countries of origin or seek a better life for their families. These individuals face potentially severe consequences if they are subjected to expedited removal. In 2017, 35 percent of all removals from the United States were conducted through expedited removal. Before the Trump Administration’s recent expansion of the process, expedited removal only applied to individuals apprehended within 14 days of entry into the United States and within 100 miles of the border.

In July 2019, the Trump Administration announced it was immediately expanding expedited removal to apply anywhere in the United States to individuals who cannot establish that they are lawfully in the country, have continuously resided within the country for two years, or have a credible fear of violence or persecution if returned to their country of origin. Citing an earlier amicus brief, a federal district court issued a preliminary injunction to prevent the expansion of expedited removal from taking effect while litigation is ongoing.

In this amicus brief, the coalition argues that the district court correctly concluded that the Trump Administration likely violated the Administrative Procedure Act by significantly expanding an already flawed process without adequately considering the consequences. Advocates report that the expedited removal process is rife with problems and has been misused to deport U.S. citizens, legitimate asylum-seekers, longtime residents with family who are U.S. citizens, children, individuals with valid work and tourist visas, and more.

In the brief, the attorneys general also note that the policy would inflict serious harm on the state coalition’s communities. 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.

Joining Attorney General James in filling this brief are the attorneys general of California, 
Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.