By Editorial Board
The Baltimore Sun
The new immigration policies President Donald Trump‘s administration released Tuesday make America less humane; they target millions of people who have been in this country for years, have contributed to society and have raised children here. They make America less free because they portend the creation of a massive “deportation force” that will hunt through communities coast-to-coast for those here illegally, inevitably sweeping up the innocent and increasing racial and ethnic profiling. But most of all, they will make America less safe.
Mr. Trump’s spokesman, Sean Spicer, says the president intends to “take the shackles off” immigration officers to make “the No. 1 priority” removing those “who pose a threat to our country.” Actually, that was the No. 1 priority under the Obama administration, which instructed immigration enforcement agents to prioritize deportation of those who committed serious crimes while in the United States. The Trump policy would allow for deportation of people who violate traffic laws or who have even been accused of a crime but not convicted. Innocent until proven guilty no longer applies, and immigration agents will have vastly expanded authority to determine on their own who constitutes a “threat.”
Immigration courts are facing a huge backlog as it is, some 540,000 cases with an average wait of more than two years. In some courts, the delay is much longer. Mr. Trump says he wants to throw more resources at the system, but how much and how quickly? For the time being, flooding the courts with people who have not shown themselves to be a danger would only delay the deportation of people who are.
Mr. Trump plans to deal with that to some degree by vastly expanding a program that eliminates due process for some immigrants caught in this country illegally. The “expedited removal” program, as it was used by the Obama administration, allowed for the elimination of some protections and hearings before deportation for people caught near the border who had been in the country for less than two weeks. Mr. Trump wants to expand it nationwide and draw in those who have been here for up to two years.
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