The Trump administration is weighing a policy that would fast-track the deportation of thousands of Central American teenagers who arrived at the southern border unaccompanied by adults, McClatchy Newspapers reports. Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to avoid creating a new protected class of undocumented immigrants, given how politically difficult it has been for the administration to unwind the DACA program, which protected young people brought by adults to the U.S. illegally when they were children. The new policy would call for expedited deportation of another group — the more than 150,000 children who arrived at the southern border alone, escaping violence and poverty in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Under the plan, teens in this group would be sent back to their countries when they turn 18 under a fast-track deportation, which means they would not see an immigration judge first.
The proposal is being drafted via memos circulated between the Justice and Homeland Security departments. It has set off an aggressive debate inside these departments among staff charged with reducing illegal immigration, government lawyers who worry about legal exposure and political operatives who see the public controversy this could fuel. “This is being viewed as a way to say that there will not need to be a new DACA,” said a former U.S. Justice Department official who is familiar with the planning. “But this is far from decided. The concern is that most people at DOJ know this will likely be viewed as illegal and do not want to have to defend this in court if they can avoid it.”