The New Expedited Removal Rule Gives ICE More Power — Here's How You Can Protect Yourself

Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty Images

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced a new expedited removal policy change that could put more undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation, Time reported. This rule also means that U.S. citizens could potentially be erroneously detained if they're questioned by immigration officials and don't have sufficient proof of citizenship on them. Overall, this new expedited removal rule will give ICE more power, and there are a few things you can do to protect yourself in the meantime.

As CNN indicated, expedited removal means that individuals can immediately be deported without a hearing before an immigration judge. Time noted that, previously, the only undocumented immigrants eligible for expedited removal were those who had been in the United States for no more than two weeks — and who were detained by immigration officials within 100 miles of a land border. Now, the new policy states that undocumented immigrants who are unable to prove that they've lived in America continuously for at least two years can be detained anywhere in the United States and subject to expedited removal proceedings, Time added. The policy was enacted on July 23.

In addition to placing undocumented immigrants at greater risk of deportation, U.S. citizens, undocumented immigrants who have been in the country for longer than two years, and immigrants with legal residency also could be impacted, Time reported.

Elora Mukherjee, a professor of law at Columbia University and director of the University’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, stressed this point to the outlet. “Once you’re caught up in the immigration system, it’s really hard to get out, even if you are a U.S. citizen,” she told Time.

Following this sweeping rule change, here are some ways you can protect yourself.

If You're Undocumented & Have Lived In The U.S. For Over Two Years

Jennifer Minear, an immigration employment attorney and president-elect at the American Immigration Lawyers Association, tells Bustle that this new expedited removal policy essentially means that "anybody can be stopped any time, anywhere and asked to show their papers." Therefore, it's crucial to be prepared in case this occurs.

Minear stresses that undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States for over two years are not subject to the expedited removal policy. If this applies to you, she says that "carrying with you whatever proof you can that you've lived here for more than two years is a good idea." She notes that items like tax returns, an employer letter stating the length of time you've worked for their company, and a lease are all good options for this type of documentation.

If You're A U.S. Citizen Or Permanent Resident

As Prof. Mukherjee explained to Time, “the change in the [expedited removal] rule allows for a massive dragnet to be run throughout the interior of the United States." Therefore, she added, "it is almost inevitable that U.S. citizens ... will be caught up in this dragnet.”

Minear notes that if you're an American citizen and want to exercise extra caution in light of the new expedited removal policy, you should carry "evidence of your citizenship all the time now." Minear says that a U.S. passport, a U.S. birth certificate, or a naturalization certificate issued by immigration services can all serve to establish American citizenship.

Minear emphasizes that citizens and permanent residents from immigrant communities need to be especially vigilant about carrying these documents. " ... We know that the administration will be targeting people who they think are not citizens," Minear tells Bustle. "Therefore, immigrant communities or communities populated by second generation Americans should be thinking very seriously about making sure they're carrying proof of citizenship or permanent resident status at all times."

If You're Undocumented & Have Been In The U.S. Less Than Two Years

Undocumented immigrants who have been in the United States for less than two continuous years are eligible for expedited removal under the new policy. Minear suggests that people in this situation should have a plan of action. That could include making contingency plans for children (and their custody) if they're U.S. citizens, securing an immigration lawyer in case you are detained, and having a phone number memorized that you can call (like a family member or immigration lawyer) if you are taken into custody, so you can notify others what has happened.

For Everyone: Know Your Rights & Be Vigilant

Regardless of your status, it's important to know your rights if you encounter immigration officials. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has an intensive guide that offers tips on what to do if you encounter Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in a variety of scenarios. Reviewing this guide will help you be prepared for these situations.

It's particularly important to note that, should ICE officials come to your home, you are not obligated to open the door or let them in — and the new expedited removal policy doesn't change that. "ICE doesn't have the legal authority to forcefully enter," Minear tells Bustle. "It's still true that if someone knocks on your door and you don't know who it is, don't answer it."

That being said, Minear estimates that expedited removal raids will largely be occurring in public places. "I expect that we might see an expansion of ... border checkpoints ... further into the interior of the U.S." she says. This will possibly occur largely " ... in immigrant communities, where they're stopping people at street corners or pulling people over at busy intersections, that would be my guess." Minear adds to Bustle that more workplace raids are also possible as the Trump administration seeks to find more immigrants who qualify for expedited removal.

It's important to be aware of the possibility of these raids and checkpoints when you are in public places — and exercise vigilance by knowing your rights in these scenarios. Even though lawsuits are expected to try to stop the Trump administration from enforcing this new policy, as Newsweek noted, it is currently in effect.