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Charlotte Advocates Worry As U.S. Moves To Speed Deportations


Immigration advocates in Charlotte are raising concerns about the Trump administration's plan to expand fast-track deportations. A federal notice published Tuesday allows immigration officials to quickly deport some immigrants without some common due-process protections, including the right to an attorney and a hearing before a judge. 

Immigration activist Hector Vaca, of Action NC, said Tuesday it's yet another sign of what he calls President Trump's "war on migrants." 

"It's a weak attempt to connect his policies to the current surge of migrants coming to this country, fleeing violence, fleeing horrible economic conditions," Vaca said. "This is against what America stands for. It's un-American to deny people due process."  

In the past, some immigrants in the country illegally could avoid quick deportation if they were farther from the border. Under this policy, rapid removal proceedings will be applied to all undocumented immigrants who have been in the country for less than two years, the Department of Homeland Security said in a notice filed in the Federal Register. It's part of a move to reduce a massive court backlog of immigration cases and to cut costs.

[Related: Trump Administration Moves to Speed Up Deportations With Expedited Removal Expansion]

Charlotte immigration lawyer Alan Gordon said the authority to speed up some deportations was already in existing law. But the Trump administration is now changing the way it's enforced. 

"The head of Homeland Security has limited what actions they take. It's not new, but they weren't doing this, and they were trying to be more selective about their enforcement," he said. 

Gordon said he thinks the new policy is likely to be challenged in court, on the grounds that it violates constitutional protections for due process. 

That's a big concern of Stefania Arteaga, a spokeswoman for the immigrant group Comunidad Colectiva in Charlotte.

"What we're really seeing is a continuous denial of due process towards immigrants who are trying to settle their immigration status, yet the administration is continuously making it hard for them to do so," she said.

Arteaga said the new policy also will add to concerns among even legal immigrants about racial profiling and spot checks about their immigration status. 

Added Hector Vaca: "It makes people feel un-valued and it creates a sense of the other, which is exactly what the president is going for. He's going for this feeling that anybody who's not white, Anglo-Saxon protestant or male is not valued in our country."

So far, immigration advocates have not seen any cases in Charlotte.  The pro-immigration American Immigration Council estimated that thousands of people could be deported as a result of the change, NPR reported.


July 23, 2019, "Designating Aliens for Expedited Removal," policy notice in the Federal Register.

David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.