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Trump’s quick deportation plan may be illegal, past immigration chiefs say

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Congress created “expedited removals” in 1996. It allows federal agents to interview each subject to determine if the person should be deported. The agent reviews any documents the person has to establish how long they’ve been in the country. If the undocumented immigrant claims fear of persecution or torture if returned to their home country, the agent is supposed to turn them over to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to determine if the detainee has a “credible fear” and should be allowed to apply for political asylum.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent commission created by Congress, concluded in a 2016 report that those fears are well grounded. Researchers observed expedited removal proceedings in several states and found that immigration officers frequently skipped legally required steps, which it called an “alarming” trend. In some cases, agents failed to fully advise detainees of their rights and did not let them review documents they were forced to sign. The commission also found that some agents disregarded immigrants’ political asylum claims.

In one case, a man from El Salvador showed an immigration agent a letter from a police officer in his hometown saying he had been threatened by gang members. But the report found that the agent simply kept the letter, which was not used to determine if he should be allowed to seek asylum. That’s why Sandweg and Wood both said it’s important for ICE to provide updated training to provide clear guidance on the kinds of documents agents can use to establish how long a person has been in the country. In a statement, ICE said all new deportation officers already undergo a 20-week training course that includes training on expedited removals.

It’s unclear how many people could be deported immediately under Trump’s plan. The Pew Research Center estimates that 1.5 million undocumented immigrants have been in the U.S. for fewer than five years, but it does not have data on those in the country fewer than two years. Homeland Security has not yet formally expanded the expedited removal process. It must frirst publish its new plan in the Federal Register.

– USA Today

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