A federal judge late Friday blocked the Trump administration’s plan to expand fast-track deportations across the country, the latest in a long line of legal defeats for the administration in its attempts to restrict immigration.
Federal Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson issued a preliminary injunction, blocking the Department of Homeland Security’s plans to expand expedited removal — quick deportations — to those who cannot prove they have been in the country continuously for two years.
The order takes effect immediately, and DHS is unable to enforce the policy as the appeals process moves forward.
“The court rejected the Trump administration’s illegal attempt to remove hundreds of thousands of people from the US without any legal recourse,” said ACLU attorney Anand Balakrishnan, who argued the case. “This ruling recognizes the irreparable harm of this policy."
The new measure was set to apply to the entire country. BuzzFeed News first reported that the administration was considering these changes over the summer.
The process would have allowed immigration officers to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants without a hearing in front of a judge.
"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 Justice Department spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. "The district court’s decision squarely conflicts with that express grant of authority and vastly exceeds the district court’s own authority."
The current policy allows officials to use expedited removal on those apprehended within 100 miles of the border and toward individuals who have been in the country for up to two weeks.
In practical terms, it would have given Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers more power to determine who could be deported quickly.
Presently, officers typically arrest individuals and place them into deportation proceedings.
These include a hearing before an immigration judge — a process that can take years.
“Moreover, given the potential for mistaken application of the expedited removal practice to persons who are not otherwise subject to deportation [...] the Court finds that interim injunctive relief is in the public’s interest,” Jackson wrote in her order.