AUSTIN – American Gateways expresses its frustration and profound concern with the Department of Homeland Security’s July 22, 2019 announcement that it will be expanding its expedited removal program. Under new rules that takes effect today, DHS will be able to apprehend and deport anyone they deem inadmissible to the United States who arrived in the country within the past two years. Individuals targeted and arrested under this program will have no automatic right to judicial review and, in some cases, could be removed from the country within days.
The expansion of this policy—a voluntary decision not required by law—will have serious consequences for the immigrant community. Noncitizens who do have lawful status, or pending applications for status in the United States, could be unlawfully targeted by DHS because of problems with identification or confusion over paperwork. Other individuals without status, but who may have lived in the United States for years, or even decades, may not be able to produce evidence of their presence on demand in the event of a raid or traffic stop.
Rebecca Lightsey, Executive Director, expressed deep concern over the threat this new rule poses to family unity and due process rights for American Gateways clients and the Central Texas immigrant community. “Obviously any measure that categorically restricts judicial review for a class of people is troubling to us. But beyond that the fear this new rule will generate among is deeply upsetting” said Lightsey. “A lot of our clients may not be able to immediately produce evidence that they are excepted from this expansion and we certainly don’t trust ICE to be able to sort out someone’s paperwork. Meanwhile families will be separated,and lives will be irreparably damaged.”
American Gateways will continue to work with our clients and the Central Texas immigrant community to ensure that everyone understands how this rule change might affect them and how they can best protect themselves against unlawful arrests and detention.