This summary about immigration court case completions was featured in Documented’s Early Arrival newsletter. You can subscribe to receive it in your inbox three times per week here.
Immigration judges across the country have significantly increased court case completions in recent months, according to a new report from TRAC, Syracuse University’s nonprofit data research center.
Judges have closed more than 375,000 cases already in the period under study — a historical record. By the end of this fiscal year, closures should have reached 400,000 or more. That’s about 50% higher than FY 2019, which was the previous high.
The report highlights factors that have influenced changes in the volume and outcome of immigration cases from from October 2021 to August 2022.
More immigration judges: The court system started this fiscal year with 559 immigration judgess — 26% higher than last year.
Failure to file the correct Notice to Appear: More cases are being immediately dismissed because the Department of Homeland Security failed to file required paperwork with the court. “These have effectively artificially inflated the number of ‘real’ case closures, because such cases never really address the underlying arguments for or against the government’s charge of deportability,” according to the report.
Judges terminating or dismissing cases: Between 2017 and 2022 fiscal years, there was an 86% increase in the number of immigration cases judges terminated. Some of these cases were decades old, and were apparently closed because the judges found that the circumstances of the cases had changed.
A modest increase in removal orders: Judges have issued more removal orders in fiscal year 2022 compared to 2021. And compared to 2017, this year is projected to show a 5% increase.
Another big growth in closures can be seen in “the return of the use of administrative closure or prosecutorial discretion to close a case that is not a priority for deportation,” the report says.
The increase in case completions in recent months is significant because there has been a heavy backlog in immigration courts during the course of the pandemic.
The findings in the report can be explored in more detail on TRAC’s website here.
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