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Obama-appointed judge stops Trump administration’s policy to fast-track deportations

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A Trump administration policy meant to “fast-track” immigrant deportations has been blocked by a preliminary injunction issued by a federal judge.

The decision following a lawsuit brought by civil rights groups suing over the policy was delivered by U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson in Washington, D.C. on Friday.

(Photo By Mani Albrecht – U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

“Both the public interest and the balance of the harms weigh in favor of the issuance of a preliminary injunction,” Jackson — who was appointed by former President Obama — wrote, blocking the Department of Homeland Security from moving forward with efforts to expedite the deportations.

“Consequently, DHS is prohibited from applying the expanded expedited removal policy to anyone to whom it would apply, while this action proceeds,” she added.

The policy, announced in July, sought to expand DHS authority that already allowed Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to deport migrants — within 100 miles of the border — who had not yet had a hearing before an immigration judge and had been in the U.S. for less than two weeks.

“Government actors who make policy decisions in their official capacities cannot succumb to whims or passions while rulemaking,” Jackson wrote. “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.”

DHS noted that the new law, which would expand the reach to those immigrants even more than 100 miles from the border, would “enhance national security and public safety — while reducing government costs — by facilitating prompt immigration determinations.”

The American Civil Liberties Union joined the American Immigration Council to file a lawsuit last month on behalf of immigrant organizations Make the Road New York, LUPE (La Union del Pueblo Entero) and We Count!

“Hundreds of thousands of people living anywhere in the U.S. are at risk of being separated from their families and expelled from the country without any recourse,” Anand Balakrishnan, an attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement. “This is a dramatic — and illegal — escalation in the Trump administration’s attacks on immigrant communities.”

Following the new ruling, Balakrishnan commented on the administration’s “illegal” actions.

“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 in a statement, according to The Hill. “This ruling recognizes the irreparable harm of this policy.”

The federal judge’s ruling cited the disruption the new law would cause.

“There is no evident consideration of the considerable downsides of adopting a policy that, in many respects, could significantly impact people’s everyday lives in many substantial, tangible, and foreseeable ways,” Jackson wrote. “An agency cannot consider only the perceived shiny bright spots of a policy that it is mulling — the silver lining, if you will.”

Although the DHS and the Justice Department have not yet commented on the ruling, Twitter users were quick to slam the decision by another activist judge.

Frieda Powers

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