The following is a press release from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office submitted to SOURCE.
BOSTON – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today, August 22, announced her office has filed a multistate action along with 17 other attorneys general opposing the Trump Administration’s attempt to expand a deportation process that could harm thousands of immigrants, families, and communities across the country.
In the brief, filed in Make the Road New York, et al. v. McAleenan et al. in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, the attorneys general support the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction suspending the Department of Homeland Security’s significant expansion of a deportation process known as “expedited removal.”
Today’s brief was led by California and joined by attorneys general from Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
This expansion would allow low-level immigration officers to deport anyone apprehended anywhere in the U.S. who cannot show that they are lawfully in the country, have been in the country continuously for at least two years, or have a credible fear of persecution if deported.
Previously, for immigrants who arrived in the United States by land, expedited removal was limited to people apprehended within 100 miles of the border and who could not demonstrate continuous presence in the country for 14 days. The proposed expansion would vastly increase the number of people subject to expedited removal.
“This is yet another illegal and dangerous immigration policy from the Trump Administration,” said AG Healey. “Expedited removal is fraught with potential for error and abuse, and we urge the court to suspend its expansion to prevent the widespread harm it could cause to immigrants and their families.”
The states argue that expanding expedited removal substantially increases the risk that people will be wrongfully deported, resulting in the separation of countless families and the potential for those deported to face severe persecution, even death, if sent back to their home countries. Expedited removal eliminates protections present in formal immigration hearings, leaving individuals without access to counsel, a hearing before a judge, or the opportunity to apply for relief from deportation.
The disruption and harm to local communities and families would be particularly acute in Massachusetts, where one in five workers is an immigrant, undocumented immigrants pay an estimated $185 million in taxes each year, and 34,000 undocumented parents are raising U.S. citizen children.
The states note substantial errors with the expedited removal process, including people being forced to sign documents they cannot read or understand, misinformed about or denied their right to apply for asylum, and denied the chance to collect information to support a valid defense against deportation.
Moreover, there is no clear legal standard by which an individual can establish they have been present in the U.S. continuously for two years, leaving it up to immigration officers to make their own determination.
Immigration officials also have near unchecked authority to determine whether an individual has established a “credible fear” that their deportation will result in persecution in their country of origin.
According to the states, expedited removal is “rife with potential for errors or abuse and has been misused to deport legitimate asylum seekers, longtime residents with family who are U.S. citizens, children, individuals with valid work and tourist visas,” and others with legal claims to be in the U.S.
The consequences of wrongful deportation are dangerous and even deadly, according to the attorneys general. The brief includes reports of individuals who were returned via the expedited removal process and faced violence, rape, and murder in their home countries.
Moreover, asylum seekers who are placed in expedited removal are often separated from their families and detained in facilities where they are subjected to severe trauma and distress, according to the states.
AG Healey has led a number of efforts against the Trump Administration’s illegal and unconstitutional immigration policies, including challenging the terminations of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status, programs that provide protection against removal for hundreds of thousands of long-term residents of the United States.
Last week, AG Healey co-led a coalition of 20 attorneys general in a comment letter demanding that the Trump Administration withdraw a proposed rule that would ban asylum for anyone who travels through a third country on the way to the United States and does not first apply for asylum in that country.