The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is planning to sue Trump administration’s latest policy change to expand expedited removals of undocumented immigrants.
Under the current policy, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can enforce expedited removals without court hearings for undocumented migrants apprehended within 100 miles of the border and have stayed in the US for less than two weeks.
Trump has expanded this policy to include undocumented immigrants who are apprehended more than 100 miles from the border and have been present in the US for less than two years. “Under this unlawful plan, immigrants who have lived here for years would be deported with less due process than people get in traffic court,” Omar Jadwat, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project of the ACLU said in a statement about the potential litigation. “We will sue to end this policy quickly.”
ACLU has also condemned ICE early July, filing a complaint to the US district court as ICE has refused to grant detained undocumented immigrants access to pro bono legal services in the upcoming ICE raids in the Bay Area.
“Everyone has a constitutional right to a lawyer,” senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Northern California Sean Riordan said in a statement. “Denying that is part of ICE’s strategy for deporting as many people as quickly as possible–with absolutely no regard for their constitutional rights.”
But this isn’t the first time ICE has denied undocumented immigrants legal services, according to ACLU. On May 21, ICE arrested a man and took him to its Stockton office. After an attorney made three calls to the Stockton office, he was told that he could not speak to his client. Instead, he had to leave a voice message for an ICE officer.
By the time ICE returned his call the next day, his client was already processed—a violation of the fifth amendment, which grants undocumented immigrants “right to counsel” even when they enter the country illegally.
“Our attorneys have documented various instances where ICE has disregarded people’s right to an attorney by denying pro bono counsel access to ICE processing centers, and where unrepresented individuals have been misinformed into signing their own deportations,” Pangea immigration attorney Etan Newman said in a statement.
ACLU has also condemned ICE for pressuring detainees to sign “voluntary return” documents. ICE had told a man who was arrested in Merced that he could not speak to his family until he signed such a form.
By agreeing to sign, undocumented immigrants can leave the country without facing an order of removal, thereby avoiding a bar from entering the United States for five to 20 years. Even though the “voluntary return” process is under the Immigration and Nationality Act, ACLU alleges that ICE has violated the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment which protects undocumented immigrants from undue governmental pressure to surrender their rights.
“This is deeply concerning,” Newman said. “Legal representation at ICE processing centers is a critical element in ensuring that individuals make informed decisions about their legal rights, and is often the difference between deportation and due process.”