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A group of 18 attorneys general from across the country Thursday supported a challenge to a Trump administration rule that broadly expands its ability to quickly deport undocumented immigrants.
The attorneys general filed an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in a lawsuit brought by advocacy organizations challenging the rule, which expands “expedited removal.”
The rule means immigration officials have a much broader ability to deport undocumented immigrants anywhere in the United States who cannot prove they have been in the country continuously for two years or more.
The attorneys general wrote in the brief that they support a preliminary injunction barring the rule from being in effect as the court case plays out.
The group wrote that the states involved in the brief are “home to hundreds of thousands of people who have come to this country because they fear persecution, torture or violence in their countries of origin or to seek a better life for their families.”
“They face severe consequences if placed in expedited removal,” they wrote.
“We are fighting back to ensure that every person is afforded appropriate protections under the law, and that this administration does not rip any more families apart,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement Thursday announcing the action. “Everyone in this nation — regardless of legal status — has the right to due process under the U.S. Constitution, and we will not waver in our fight to ensure this protection.”
The states involved are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, in addition to Washington, D.C.
Last month, the Department of Homeland Security published a notice in the Federal Register, set to be effective immediately, that expanded “expedited removal,” which was first established by statute in 1996.
Since 2004, the policy allowed for immigration authorities to use the expedited removal process for undocumented immigrants caught within 100 miles of a U.S. land border and arrested within 14 days of arrival.
The new notice would expand that to all undocumented immigrants anywhere in the United States and says they would have to show “to the satisfaction of an immigration officer, that they have been physically present in the United States continuously” for two years or more.
“The effect of that change will be to enhance national security and public safety — while reducing government costs — by facilitating prompt immigration determinations,” the department wrote in the rule.
The department added that the notice would allow it to “address more effectively and efficiently” the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and ensure “prompt removal from the country.”
Earlier this month, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit challenging the rule, arguing it violates immigrants’ rights, is illegal, arbitrary and capricious, and could lead to abuse or errors. Those errors include deporting people who should be allowed to stay in the country or detaining people who have been in the country more than two years but are not quickly able to prove it, the lawsuit said.
The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.