A federal judge on Friday night stopped the Trump administration from expanding its controversial “expedited removal” process, used to quickly deport undocumented immigrants without proceedings in immigration court.
U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, an appointee of President Barak Obama, sided with civil rights groups suing over the policy by issuing a nationwide preliminary injunction halting enforcement of the policy.
In granting the injunction sought by The American Civil Liberties Union, American Immigration Council, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, Jackson reasoned that the plaintiffs in the case were likely to show that many legal immigrants and those lawfully seeking asylum would suffer irreparable harm by being deported without proper due process under the policy.
“Both the public interest and the balance of the harms weigh in favor of the issuance of a preliminary injunction,” Jackson wrote.
“Consequently, [the Department of Homeland Security] is prohibited from applying the expanded expedited removal policy to anyone to whom it would apply, while this action proceeds.”
The administration in July announced its plans for nationwide expansion of the policy which originally only applied to illegal immigrants caught within 100-miles of the U.S. southern border who had entered the country within the last two weeks, calling it a necessary response to the influx of immigrants illegally coming into the country unlawfully.
In her 126-page opinion, Jackson took aim at what she described as the administration’s shoddy approach to making policy changes that could affect thousands of people.
“Government actors who make policy decisions in their official capacities cannot succumb to whims or passions while rulemaking; instead, they must carefully evaluate all of the relevant facts and circumstances and take into account the feedback they have to solicit and receive from interested members of the public,” Jackson wrote.
“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,” she added.
Following the ruling, the Department of Justice released a statement claiming Jackson’s decision undermined the rule of law.
“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,” a department spokesman said. “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.”
ACLU attorney Anand Balakrishnan, who argued the case before Judge Jackson, said the court ruled correctly in blocking the illegal policy expansion.
“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.”
[image via LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images]