Judge Blocks Trump Administration’s Expansion of Fast-Track Deportations

By Shani Saxon Sep 30, 2019

The Trump administration can no longer move forward with its plan to expand the group of people who are subject to its “expedited removal” process, NPR reports. A federal judge on Friday (September 27) blocked the policy change that would allow the United States to deport migrants of undocumented status who have been in the United States for less than two years without giving them an opportunity to appear in immigration court. 

In the past, “fast-track deportations” were reserved for migrants of undocumented status who crossed the U.S. border and were arrested within 100 miles of the border and within two weeks of their arrival. The Trump administration’s decision to expand the policy is unlawful, according to U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. She issued a 126-page report and a temporary injunction to halt the policy expansion until the court can finish litigating the matter.

According to NPR, the judge said the administration likely violated federal law by failing to “follow the correct decision-making procedures, such as the formal notice-and-comment period required for major federal rule changes.” In her report, Judge Brown Jackson said, “no good cause exists for the agency to have not complied with these mandates in this instance.” She also referred to the policy expansion as “arbitrary and capricious.”

The judge writes in her report


Put in common parlance, if a policy decision that an agency makes is of sufficient consequence that it qualifies as an agency rule, then arbitrariness in deciding the contours of that rule—e.g., decision making by Ouija board or dart board, rock/paper/scissors, or even the Magic 8 Ball—simply will not do. There are well-established legal constraints on the manner in which an agency exercises its discretion to make discretionary policy decisions, and there are also legally established consequences if an agency does not adhere to these procedural requirements when it determines the policies that it imposes.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice responded to the judge’s ruling in a comment to NPR on Saturday (September 28):


Congress expressly authorized the Secretary of Homeland Security to act with dispatch to remove from the country aliens who have no right to be here. The district court’s decision squarely conflicts with that express grant of authority and vastly exceeds the district court’s own authority. This ruling undermines the laws enacted by Congress and the Trump administration’s careful efforts to implement those laws.

Advocates at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), American Immigration Council and Simpson Thacher and Bartlett filed for the injunction, according to NPR. ACLU attorney Anand Balakrishnan argued the case in front of Judge Brown Jackson and released a statement to NPR following the decision. “The court rejected the Trump administration’s illegal attempt to remove hundreds of thousands of people from the U.S. without any legal recourse,” Balakrishnan said. “This ruling recognizes the irreparable harm of this policy.”