Vermont joins legal effort to end fast-track deportations

Local News

FILE – In this July 8, 2019 file photo, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers detain a man during an operation in Escondido, Calif. The administration of President Donald Trump announced Monday, July 22, 2019 that it will vastly expand the authority of immigration officers to deport migrants without allowing them to first appear before judges, its second major policy shift on immigration in eight days. Starting Tuesday, fast-track deportations can apply to anyone in the country illegally for less than two years. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

Vermont has joined 17 states and the District of Columbia in support of a legal effort to halt the expedited deportation of people suspected of being in the United States illegally.

According to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of several immigrant-rights groups, so-called fast-track deportations target immigrants who cannot prove they have been in the U.S. continuously for two years or more.

The new rules, which the Trump administration put into effect July 23, allow immigration officials to deport individuals without a hearing before a judge or access to an attorney. Expedited removal was previously limited to within 100 miles of the border and to those who had been in the U.S. for less than two weeks.

In a statement, Attorney General TJ Donovan said Vermont will join an amicus brief filed with U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, supporting a request for a preliminary injunction to halt the fast-track process.

“This cannot go unchecked,” Donovan said. “Our system of justice requires access to legal representation, and a meaningful opportunity to present evidence and defenses.”

The amicus brief says the fast-track process means people who cannot immediately prove “to the satisfaction of the immigration officer” that they have not left the US in the previous two years can be deported.

The lack of a “clear legal standard,” the states argue, increases the risk that lawful residents, U.S. citizens, asylum-seekers and other immigrants with legal protections could be mistakenly expelled.

The ACLU’s lawsuit claims the new rules put hundreds of thousands of people living in the US at risk of being separated from their families and deported without due process.

“This is a dramatic — and illegal — escalation in the Trump administration’s attacks on immigrant communities,” said Anand Balakrishnan, an attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

The other states that joined the brief are include New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

This story includes information from the Associated Press.

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