SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced leading a coalition of 22 attorneys general in an amicus brief opposing the Trump Administration’s legally flawed attempts to immediately expand the use of expedited removal. Expedited removal is a fast-tracked process that generally does not allow for access to legal representation, witnesses, or a meaningful opportunity to present evidence and defenses. Individuals are exempt from expedited removal if they have a credible or reasonable fear of persecution or torture in their home country. In September 2019, a federal district court issued a preliminary injunction preventing the rule from going into effect, which the Administration then appealed. In the amicus brief, the coalition urges the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to uphold the injunction.
“With this rule, the Trump Administration is trying to sidestep its moral and legal obligations to those fleeing violence and persecution,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Fortunately, we’re a nation of laws where everyone, including the Trump Administration, has to play by the rules. We’ll continue to stand up for what’s right alongside our partners around the country and defend the rights of hardworking immigrant families.”
The states in the coalition are home to hundreds of thousands of immigrants who have come to this country because they fear persecution, torture, or violence in their countries of origin or seek a better life for their families. These individuals face potentially severe consequences if they are subjected to expedited removal. In 2017, 35 percent of all removals from the United States were conducted through expedited removal. Before the Trump Administration’s recent expansion of the process, expedited removal applied to individuals apprehended within 14 days of entry into the United States and within 100 miles of the border. In July 2019, the Trump Administration announced it was immediately expanding expedited removal to apply anywhere in the United States to individuals who cannot establish that they are lawfully in the country, have continuously resided within the country for two years, or have a credible fear of violence or persecution if returned to their home countries. Citing an earlier amicus brief led by California, a federal district court issued a preliminary injunction to prevent the expansion of expedited removal from taking effect while litigation is ongoing.
In the amicus brief announced today, the coalition argues that the district court correctly concluded that the Trump Administration likely violated the Administrative Procedure Act by significantly expanding an already flawed process without adequately considering the consequences. Advocates report that the expedited removal process is rife with problems and has been misused to deport U.S. citizens, legitimate asylum-seekers, longtime residents with family who are U.S. citizens, children, individuals with valid work and tourist visas, and more. In the brief, the attorneys general also note that the policy would inflict serious harm on the state coalition’s communities. For instance, mixed-status households with both lawful and undocumented residents may be torn apart with little or no time to prepare or seek legal representation. The prospect of sudden and unexpected separation can cause children to experience serious mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.
Attorney General Becerra remains committed to protecting the rights of immigrants across the country. Earlier this year, the Attorney General blasted a Trump Administration proposal that would prevent asylum-seekers from becoming self-sufficient while waiting for their cases to be decided. Attorney General Becerra is also leading the fight against the Trump Administration’s harmful public charge rule that discourages hardworking immigrants and their families from accessing critical health, nutrition, and housing programs that supplement their modest wages and help them make ends meet. Early last year, Attorney General Becerra fought back against the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s practice of denying people access to the asylum process through misrepresentations, threats and intimidation, coercion, and verbal and physical abuse.
In filing the amicus brief, Attorney General Becerra is joined by the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
A copy of the amicus brief is available here.