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Immigration Court Case Completions are Rapidly Rising. What’s Driving It?

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.

STORIES WE ARE FOLLOWING 

New York

Bus contractor hired by Texas Gov. Abbott agreed not to talk to NY officials:

His unwillingness to talk made it difficult for officials and volunteers to know when and how many buses are arriving; if anyone on these buses has medical conditions, and more. — Business Insider

Migrants were sent to ‘live’ in a Brooklyn Heights office building:

Hundreds of migrants have shown up at the Catholic Charities office, with many holding forms that indicated the office as their official mailing address. — Curbed

Around the U.S. 

Venezuelans flown to Martha’s Vineyard search for a way off the island: Attorneys say migrants were tricked into getting on planes to the Massachusetts island, and could be entitled to protections conferred to migrants who are victims of crimes. — Miami Herald

Officials allegedly messed up paperwork of migrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard: A Boston immigration attorney said Department of Homeland Security officials gave migrants falsified addresses to make it more difficult for them to stay in the U.S. — HuffPost 

Podcast — immigration attorney talks about the border, sending migrants to Martha’s Vineyard: Taylor Levy, a pro bono immigration attorney, spoke about the latest border updates, and the basics of what’s going as Republican governors send migrants to other states. — Redirect 

Opinion — Duping migrants to send them across state lines could warrant kidnapping charges: Migrants were told they were going to Boston to receive work permits but sent to Martha’s Vineyard, a political stunt and enough to charge officials with kidnapping, a columnist writes. — The Nation

Washington D.C.

Plan to stem migration by building rule of law in Central America isn’t working: Guatemala’s government has jailed, exiled or silenced the very people the U.S. said would underpin its efforts to make the country safer. — The New York Times

Biden admin. preparing to expand private-sponsorship program for refugees: The Sponsor Circle Program, which enlists neighbors, faith groups and other collectives to support refugees, has helped over 600 Afghans restart their lives. — AP News

Biden admin. pressing Mexico to accept more expelled migrants from Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken raised concerns about an escalating number of crossings by migrants from the three countries during a visit to Mexico City. — Reuters

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