U.S. Bishops Slam Expansion of ‘Expedited Removal’ for Undocumented Migrants

MESA, AZ - JUNE 24: Undocumented Guatemalan immigrants are body searched before boarding a deportation flight to Guatemala City, Guatemala at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport on June 24, 2011 in Mesa, Arizona. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, ICE, repatriates thousands of undocumented Guatemalans monthly, many of whom are caught …
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The head of the U.S. Bishops Committee on Migration denounced the Trump administration’s expansion of fast-track removal of undocumented immigrants, insisting the move would have “terrible” consequences.

“I call on the Department of Homeland Security to reverse its decision to expand its policy of expedited removal,” said Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, in a statement posted Thursday on the U.S. Bishops’ website. “This action is yet another escalation of this Administration’s enforcement-only immigration approach, and it will have terrible human consequences.”

“The new policy will allow for the deportation of many more individuals without providing them an opportunity to seek legal counsel and have a hearing before an immigration judge,” Bishop Vásquez said.

The bishop was reacting to an announcement that the government has significantly expanded the use of an “expedited removal” process for migrants suspected of being undocumented, which “includes migrants who cannot prove to an immigration officer that they have resided in the United States continuously for two years or longer.”

The statement said that the move gives the Department of Homeland Security authority to remove migrants suspected of being undocumented while “circumventing important due process protections.”

“Even those migrants who have long-standing ties to the U.S. and have been in the country for more than the requisite two years required under the new policy may now be subjected to expedited removal if they are unable to prove such to the satisfaction of an individual immigration officer,” Vásquez said.

The bishop concluded by saying that the program would yield “unacceptable results.”

“The implementation of this new policy will have unjust and unacceptable results and lead to more widespread family separation, stoking fear in our communities,” he said.

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