The administration of US President Donald Trump announced on Monday that it will vastly extend the authority of immigration officers to deport migrants without allowing them to appear before judges, its second major policy shift on immigration in eight days.
Starting on Tuesday, fast-track deportations can apply to anyone in the United States illegally for less than two years.
Previously, those deportations were largely limited to people arrested almost immediately after crossing the Mexican border.
Kevin McAleenan, the acting Homeland Security secretary, portrayed the nationwide extension of “expedited removal” authority as another Trump administration effort to address an “ongoing crisis on the southern border” by freeing up beds in detention facilities and reducing a backlog of more than 900,000 cases in immigration courts.
US authorities do not have space to detain “the vast majority” of people arrested on the Mexican border, leading to the release of hundreds of thousands of detainees with notices to appear in court, McAleenan said in the policy directive to be published on Tuesday in the Federal Register.
He said Homeland Security officials with the new deportation power will deport migrants in the country illegally more quickly than the Justice Department’s immigration courts, where cases can take years to resolve.
The agency “expects that the full use of expedited removal statutory authority will strengthen national security, diminish the number of illegal entries, and otherwise ensure the prompt removal of aliens apprehended in the United States,” McAleenan said.
Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan, reporting from Washington DC, said the plan will change the authority that immigration officers have to immediately deport people without proper documentation.
“This plan if it does takes effect on Tuesday will cover the entire United States and the people who could be affected may have been in the country for as long as up to two years,” she said.