The first study of expedited deportations ordered not by judges but by federal immigration agents has found that numerous people were summarily deported without being given the chance to have their cases heard. This is despite the deportees having strong claims or legal rights to remain in the United States, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The investigative report compiled by the ACLU, American Exiles: Rapid Deportations That Bypass the Courtroom, covers more than 130 individual cases where immigrants were deported. Some of these deportations were ordered over the course of just a couple of hours and without the deportees being given even the most basic protections of due process, such as the right to defend their claim to stay in the United States in front of a judge. The Department of Homeland Security ordered the deportations alongside officers from US Customs and Border Protection, a sub-agency that has long received criticism for its lack of accountability and oversight. Over 40,000 officers from US Customs and Border Protection have been given the power to authorize deportations without the independent reviews insisted on by human rights law, no evidence required and no necessity for lawyers.
“Under the current system, thousands of people are subject to the whim and mercy of immigration officers who are acting as prosecutor, judge and deporter,” say the report’s author, Sarah Mehta, an ACLU Human Rights Program researcher. “These officers are not equipped with the legal knowledge and expertise to decide who has rights or valid claims to enter and live in the United States.”