WASHINGTON • The Trump administration is weighing a new policy to dramatically expand the Department of Homeland Security's powers to expedite the deportations of some illegal immigrants.
Since 2004, the agency has been authorised to bypass immigration courts only for immigrants who had been living in the country illegally for less than two weeks and were apprehended within 160km of the border.
Under the proposal, the agency would be empowered to seek the expedited removal of illegal immigrants apprehended anywhere in the United States who cannot prove they have lived in the country continuously for more than 90 days, according to a 13-page internal agency memo obtained by The Washington Post.
The new guidelines, if enacted, would represent a major expansion of the agency's authority to speed up deportations under President Donald Trump, who has made border security a top priority.
Two administration officials confirmed that the proposed new policy, which would not require congressional approval, is under review. Ms Joanne Talbot, a DHS spokeswoman, described it as a draft and emphasised that no final decisions have been made by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.
"The potential changes would allow DHS to more efficiently use resources to remove persons who have been illegally present for relatively brief periods of time while still observing due-process requirements," Ms Talbot said.
Immigrant rights advocates denounced the proposed expansion of the expedited deportation authority, warning that the policy would strip more immigrants of due-process rights to seek asylum or other legal protections that would allow them to remain in the country.
"This is a radical departure from current policy and practice, which takes one giant step towards implementing Trump's deportation force across the nation," said Ms Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Centre.
Meanwhile, the US Justice Department has asked the Supreme Court to block a federal judge's ruling that exempted grandparents of people living in the US from Mr Trump's travel ban.
In a filing on Friday, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to overturn Thursday's decision by a federal judge in Hawaii that placed limits on the measure temporarily barring refugees and other travellers from six predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, and refugees for 120 days.
WASHINGTON POST, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE