Glava gästgård, a mansion in southern Sweden used to house refugees

Asylum, refugees, and the callousness of hedging against an infinitesimal risk

Asylum-seekers and refugees are not a significant threat to US national security or economic stability, yet now we’ll turn an even greater number of vulnerable people away “just in case” and “because we can’t take care of everyone.”

President Donald Trump’s immigration regime puts an unprecedented population of people at risk of harm, especially the most vulnerable.

Immigrant advocacy organizations and legal professionals have been updating guidelines and recommendations in the wake of executive orders which prescribe an expansion in discretionary detention and deportation of undocumented persons.

Bush, then Obama, set the stage for Trump

Law since 1996, “expedited removal” refers to the broad discretion even low-level immigration officials have to summarily deport any foreign national arriving at the US border without documentation, or who“have committed fraud or misrepresentation.”

In 2004, immigration officials’ power to expedite removal was expanded under the auspices of national security.

The result is that immigration officers, usually Border Patrol, have virtually unchecked authority to deport undocumented individuals who arrive at our border, or undocumented individuals apprehended within two weeks of arrival and within 100 miles of the Canadian or Mexican border.

Expedited removal forgoes any formal court or immigration hearing, meaning the immigration agent serves both as prosecutor and judge.

Even those who qualify for deportation relief are unjustly deprived of any opportunity to do so — there is seldom any time to get an attorney, family member, or friend and make a case before the decision is made, heightening the risk that persons are being erroneously deported from the United States potentially to imminent harm or death.

Obama expanded discretionary use of expedited removal further. 44 percent of all removals from the United States were conducted through expedited removal in Fiscal Year 2013.

On World Refugee Day, June 20, 2014, as unaccompanied children from Central America were overwhelming immigration resources on the southwest border, and while hundreds of others were being found dead in the brutal borderlands, the Obama administration acted through the “consequence delivery system,” effectively penalizing the desperation of these fleeing minors by instructing border agents to detain and quickly deport families from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala in an attempt to deter more from coming.

ICE then still had fewer than 100 beds for detaining families with children, which it bolstered with a makeshift facility in Artesia, New Mexico,then a facility in Karnes County, Texas; then a large facility in Dilley, Texas to hold up to 2,400 children and their mothers. Family detention was efficiently expanded 370 percent — to 3,700 detention beds for children and their parents.

The Executive Order “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements” dramatically expands the use of expedited removal

Law students at the Harvard Immigration Project, Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, published a report The Impact of President Trump’s Executive Orders on Asylum Seekers, the product of two weeks intensive research.

The report warns of a “new regime of large-scale detention, expansion of expedited removal without due process, and deputizing of state and local officials to detain individuals on ‘mere suspicion’ of immigration violations.”

Baseless fear-mongering has endangered the ability for asylum seekers to “meaningfully pursue their claims,” write the report’s authors, “and make an already deeply flawed system dramatically worse.”

The executive orders are rooted in “erroneous assumptions about the criminality and extremist tendency of the immigrant population,” and “represent a dramatic restriction of access to asylum and other immigration protections in the United States,” says the report.

The United States is not a “safe country of asylum” for those fleeing persecution and violence. The substance of President Trump’s recent executive orders highlights this administration’s hostility toward refugees and asylum seekers

“It will take billions of dollars to accommodate this kind of mass incarceration,” said Professor Deborah Anker, head of the Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program at Harvard Law School, is quoted on the clinic’s website.

“In the meantime, the new policies allow any state and local enforcement official, not just trained federal agents, to pick people up on mere suspicion, detain them in any remote location, subject them to an ‘expedited removal’ process, where many if not most will be unable to express their fear of return and be screened for making refugee and torture protection claims.”

More on asylum-seekers and expedited removal.

Budapest Beacon