NEW YORK, United States (CMC) — A coalition of 22 attorneys general in the United States have filed an amicus brief opposing what they describe as the Trump administration’s “legally flawed attempts” to increase the risk of “erroneous deportation” of Caribbean and other immigrants.
On Friday, the attorneys general said that the administration wants 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,” they said. “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 more individuals than before.
In September 2019, a US federal district court issued a preliminary injunction preventing this expansion from going into effect, which the administration then appealed.
In the amicus brief, filed on Friday, the coalition of attorneys general urged the US 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 fulfil its xenophobic agenda,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is leading the attorneys general on the issue.
“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,” she added. “We will not allow this administration to continue to trample on our laws or our morals.”
James said 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 [to] seek a better life for their families”.
“These individuals face potentially severe consequences if they are subjected to expedited removal,” she said.
In 2017, James said 35 per cent of all removals from the United States were conducted through expedited removal.
Before the Trump administration’s recent expansion of the process, she said 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.
Joining James in filing the brief are the attorneys general from the states 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.