The Trump White House is considering turning back the clock on expedited deportation of illegal aliens by expanding the power of the Department of Homeland Security to remove illegals who cannot prove they have been in the country for more than 90 consecutive days.
Current procedures that have been in place since the Bush administration limit the expedited procedures to aliens who have been in the country for less than two weeks and are caught within 100 miles of the border.
Administration officials confirmed that the revised guidelines are under review. The DHS memo was first delivered to the White House in May and agency officials are reviewing comments on the document from the Office of Management and Budget, reports WaPo.
“The potential changes would allow DHS to more efficiently use resources to remove persons who have been illegally present for relatively brief periods of time while still observing due-process requirements,” said DHS spokeswoman Joanne F. Talbot. She added that DHS Secretary John Kelly has not made a final decision to approve the proposed changes.
If adopted, the rules would give the DHS power to increase both the number and pace of deportations, a key component of President Donald Trump’s immigration enforcement strategy. Trump sought to expand the use of expedited removals in a pair of January executive orders, rescinding Obama administration guidelines that limited deportation to illegal aliens convicted of serious criminal offenses. More recently, the U.S. has cut by nearly half the number of countries that refuse to accept illegal immigrants that the U.S. is trying to deport.
The DHS memo says greater expedited removal authority “will enhance national security and public safety” begin to clear the “historic backlogs” at U.S. immigration courts. The number of pending immigration hearings recently hit a record high of nearly 600,000, despite a recent surge of new judges, according to government data.
Technically, the DHS proposal stops far short of legal limits on expedited deportations. In 1996, Congress authorized the procedure for any illegal alien that could not prove they had been physically present in the country two years before their arrest.
Talbot says the DHS memo simply recommends that the Trump administration avail itself of existing immigration enforcement authority.
“Anyone who is surprised that the administration is considering lawfully expanding the use of expedited removal has not been paying attention,” Talbot said. “The expansion you describe is explicitly allowed” under federal law.
Ninety days is a damn sight better than two weeks but falls far short of the expedited standards that predate the Bush administration.
Still, perhaps we should look at this as a process. If the administration can change the time period from two weeks to 90 days, it can change it again. Examining how the revised DHS guidelines work in the real world should give the administration a good idea of just how far they can go in making deportation the norm once again.
Many illegals will cross the border for a few months to find seasonal work and then cross back over when the job is done. These new guidelines should go at least part of the way in discouraging that practice.