The acting head of ICE, Tony Pham, stated earlier last week that ICE Agents had until yesterday, October 16, to finish training on a new policy that allows officers to arrest and rapidly deport undocumented immigrants who have been in the US for less than two years.
The new policy will give agents the ability to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants without a hearing in front of a judge. A federal judge blocked this policy in 2019, but in June the D.C. Circuit lifted the preliminary injunction.
Currently, officers would arrest immigrants and place them in deportation proceedings. These include a hearing before an immigration judge which is a process that can take years. The expanded policy gives ICE officers more power to determine who can be quickly deported, although it’s unclear exactly how fast the process will be. The previous policy only allowed officials to use expedited removal within 100 miles of the border and for those who have been in the country for up to two weeks.
The shift could allow the Trump administration to increase deportations while circumventing a court system that is severely backed up and short on resources, but advocates for immigrants have said it would totally destroy their constitutional due process rights.
An email, first reported by Bloomberg Government, to ICE employees on Friday of last week, stated that agents need to finish a training course on the policy by Oct. 16, after which they can begin applying it.
“ICE officers being told that they should not revisit cases of immigrants who are already in deportation proceedings, and officers must not apply the quick deportations to people who can prove they were in the US before the policy was first issued last July. Officers can decide not to use expedited removal in cases in which an immigrant has “mental competency” issues, is the sole caregiver of a US citizen or lawful permanent child, has some chance at obtaining legal status through deportation proceedings, or if they are a crime victim or witness to a crime, among other exceptions.
“In conducting their review of these cases, the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor or OPLA attorneys should be mindful of how a court would view the available evidence of physical presence in the United States,” the email to ICE attorneys’ states.
In a separate memo, Pham laid out the realities of how the policy will be used.
“As a practical matter, I anticipate that the July 23, 2019 designation will be primarily used by ICE in the Criminal Alien Program and Work Enforcement contexts, when Deportation Officers encounter aliens who have been arrested by another law enforcement agency for criminal activity or when Special Agents encounter unlawful workers at worksites targeted for enforcement action based on investigative leads,” he wrote.
Undocumented immigrants who claim to be fearful of persecution in their home country will be referred to an asylum officer for an initial interview, the guidance states. Undocumented immigrants can use bankbooks, leases, school records, employment records, or other materials to prove their presence in the country, according to the memo. If they don’t have the documents immediately, they will be given a “brief but reasonable opportunity” to get them.
Immigrants, however, could find it difficult to prove that they have been in the country for at least two years while they are in detention which is why our attorney’s are trained a prepared to help you with your immigration situation every step along the way.