New US Immigration Policy Could Lead to Unconstitutional Deportation of Legal Immigrants

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

Under the guise of an adaptation to an old policy, a new immigration plan introduced by the Trump administration in late January 2017 would allow for immigrants nationwide to be deported without the due process of a fair trial. A part of immigration law since the Clinton administration, expedited removal was originally put in place to easily deport illegal immigrants who were caught in the act of entering the country illegally. Mostly used within 100 miles of the Mexican border, it quickened the process of removing people who were obviously in the country illegally. However, Donald Trump’s new version looks to apply expedited removal countrywide, giving law officers the power of judges to arbitrarily decide if a person has the legal right to be in the United States.

A story from Reveal delves into the potential repercussions of expedited removal. Firstly, the article recognizes that the current system for identifying illegal immigrants is already flawed. This rule gives officers arbitrary decision-making power to decide if a person’s documents are real, or if they are lying. Applying expedited removal to the whole country also could be unconstitutional. The ability to deport people without a trial and due process to find them guilty of being in the country illegally goes against the Fifth Amendment. It is argued that applying this power countrywide gives the immigration officers too much power to make decisions arbitrarily and vastly raises the possibility of mistakes, and also abuses of that power. It opens the door for people who are in the country legally to be treated like illegal immigrants, and summarily deported.

There has been some coverage of the policy in general terms by the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post and AP, however the articles do not dig deeply into the constitutional implications.  A Washington Post story on July 14, 2017, for example, gets into the politics and history of expedited removal and the other immigration policies that have been implemented by the Trump administration. It also compares the current immigration and deportation statistics through the Bush and Obama administrations. Also, almost a month later this story was covered by the Los Angeles Times and the National Post in Canada, however, they do not question the legality of the expansion of expedited removal.

Source: Bernice Yeung and Andrew Becker, “How Trump Is Expanding the Government’s Secret Deportation Weapon,” Reveal (Center for Investigative Reporting), November 1, 2017,

Student Researchers: Brendan Ellis (University of Regina)

Faculty Evaluators: Janelle Blakley and Patricia Elliott (University of Regina)