As Immigration and Customs Enforcement slates more people for deportation, a new analysis from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse shows that more cases are being rejected by immigration courts that determine individuals should not be subject to deportation. Immigration courts dismissed almost one-third of cases referred by ICE in the final three months of the 2010 fiscal year, compared with about one-fourth of cases rejected a year earlier.
Some immigration courts were far more likely to turn away cases for deportation brought by ICE in fiscal year 2010. In New York City, 70 percent of cases were rejected, while Los Angeles and Portland, Ore., each dismissed 63 percent.
TRAC’s report doesn’t establish a reason for the increase in rejected cases, although it notes that the immigration courts have seen no policy changes and have a very similar makeup to last year. The research organization is involved in a spat with ICE over whether the agency should release more detailed data on how it is enforcing immigration laws after the agency demanded $450,000 to deliver data to TRAC.
Still, the TRAC report comes to some conclusions:
The poor targeting of government removal efforts documented by the Immigration Court data shows that scarce resources such as the investigative time of ICE agents are being wasted and that the ability of the government to deport those who should be removed from the country therefore has been reduced. Poor targeting that weakens the government is inefficient.
Beyond costs to the government, the analysis points to high costs for the people ICE targets for removal who are later allowed to stay in the country. Although cases that end in removal orders took, on average, 140 days during the 2010 fiscal year, backlogs in the courts make dismissals far slower. It took an average of 424 says for a court to rule that ICE had no grounds for deportation and 696 days for a court to determine that a non-citizen should be granted asylum or other relief from deportation, according to TRAC.