The National Immigrant Justice Center today joined dozens of national and local civil rights organizations in a letter condemning the proposal of nine members of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee to create a pilot program to expedite the deportation of jailed asylum-seeking families on the southern border. The program, cynically dubbed “Operation Safe Return” and described in the senators’ letter, would force asylum-seeking families through a rushed fifteen-day process during which they would have to articulate a complex legal case for asylum without meaningful access to a lawyer and within the stressful confines of the immigration detention system.
In coverage of the pilot program in Roll Call, NIJC’s Policy Director Heidi Altman explained: “The proposal is shrouded in language that purports to support efficiency and due process but may actually undermine the asylum process.… You cannot expedite deportations in a system that is this badly rigged against asylum seekers without sending asylum seekers back to harm.”
NIJC and the dozens of organizations opposing the program further explain in our letter that the program “would result in further denials of due process within the expedited removal process and the rapid return of asylum-seeking families to harm. Despite its name, Operation Safe Return does not ensure families will be safe before, during, or after their return and repatriation—instead, it actually puts them more at risk.”
NIJC calls on Members of Congress to publicly oppose “Operation Safe Return” and to champion the rescission of administration policies such as metering, Return to Mexico, and prolonged detention that continue to result in the systemic violation of human rights abuses on the border.