A federal appeals court panel in Washington appeared ready Friday to allow the Trump administration’s expansion of a fast-track deportation process to a broader swath of immigrants who illegally entered the United States.
At oral argument, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit aired skepticism that the Department of Homeland Security needs to go through the federal rulemaking process before it makes the change. The panel will issue a ruling at a later date.
The expansion, announced in July, redefined which immigrants could be put in the expedited process that allows for rapid deportation without a full hearing. Since 2004, immigrants encountered within 100 miles of a land border or within 14 days of an illegal crossing could be deported quickly.
DHS expanded that to immigrants encountered anywhere in the United States within two years of illegally crossing the border — citing in part the historic backlog of removal cases of 900,000 at that time.
A district court judge sided with a trio of immigrant rights groups and stopped the expansion nationwide in September, finding in part that Congress did not intend to give so much discretion to DHS that the agency wouldn’t have to go through the rulemaking process.