As a San Diego immigration lawyer, I cringe when I see immigrants without attorneys at immigration court hearings.
Even if you have a “good case,” the difficulty of winning at immigration court should not underestimated.
A new report, released by the U.S. Department of Justice this week, provided support for my views.
According to the DOJ Report, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) received 325,326 new immigration cases during 2010.
At present, there are 58 immigration courts and 270 judges. This means there are too many cases for too few judges.
As noted Deportation And Removal Defense: How To Understand Hardship, the standard for earning relief against deportation is set abnormally high. When the overload facing judges is added to the mix, the need to revamp the immigration court system becomes critical for immigrants and their families.
New Deportation And Removal Cases By Year
- 2006 – 308,652
- 2007 – 279,430
- 2008 – 292,013
- 2009 – 327,928
- 2010 – 325,326
In addition to deportation and removal cases, immigration judges conduct hearings involving bond determinations, motions to reopen, motions to reconsider, and other special motions.
When these short term matters are added to their workload, the number of cases which judges have to handle each year increases substantially. For 2010, the combined total was 392,888.
Immigration Court Decisions In 2010
The first category shows which nationalities were involved in the largest amount of “final” immigration court decisions during 2010.
Deportation And Removal Decisions By Country Of Birth
In 2010, 67% of the cases completed by the EOIR involved immigrants from just five countries, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and China.
The top ten countries were:
- 1. Mexico
- 2. Guatemala
- 3. El Salvador
- 4. Honduras
- 5. China
- 6. Haiti
- 7. Dominican Republic
- 8. Colombia
- 9. Cuba
- 10. Jamaica
This chart illustrates a key factor for future government policy. It also shows why an enforcement-only approach will not succeed.
The largest percentage of immigrants facing deportation are natives of countries closest to our borders.
Former president George W. Bush recognized the solution. If reducing the flow of undocumented immigrants is the goal, the solution is to work closely with our neighbors in the south. It’s too bad he never acted on his insight.
We are, in short, an economic magnet to poor immigrants living in Latin American countries. By helping Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and other nations improve their economies, we would likely reduce the migration of their citizens to the United States.
Deportation And Removal Decisions By Court Location
Overall, as an immigration deportation attorney, I’m not surprised by this list of busiest immigration courts.
However, based on my travels to various immigration courts, I thought Los Angeles and El Paso ranked higher.
- New York, New York (21,757)
- Los Angeles, California (19,144)
- San Antonio, Texas (15,586)
- Chicago, Illinois (13,860)
- San Francisco, California (13,478)
- Miami, Florida (11,750)
- Harlingen, Texas (11,082)
- Dallas, Texas (9,146)
- Denver, Colorado (8,872)
- El Paso, Texas (8,145)
This list pertains only to immigration courts that primarily handle non-detained cases. Immigration courts housed at detention facilities or processing centers are not included.
Deportation And Removal Decisions By Representation
As noted above, far too many immigrants facing deportation or removal do not hire an attorney.
Here’s the proof.
- Represented – 122,465 (43%)
- Not Represented – 164,742 (57%)
Deportation And Removal Decisions By Outcome
This statistic shows how difficult it is to win your immigration court case.
- Terminated/Other – 11.5%
- Favorable Decision – 13.9%
- Removal/Deportation Order – 74.7%
2010 Board Of Immigration Appeals Decisions
The majority of cases reviewed by the BIA involve decisions made by immigration judges. Most immigration appeals pertain to deportation or removal cases.
At the present time, the Board has a backlog of 30, 112 cases. In 2010, 17, 578 new appeals were filed at the BIA.
New BIA Appeals By Percentage Of Immigration Court Decisions
Even though the amount of immigration court decisions has fluctuated from year-to-year, the percentage of appeals filed by immigrants has remained fairly constant over the past five years.
- 2006 – 9%
- 2007 – 10%
- 2008 – 9%
- 2009 – 8%
- 2010 – 8%
These figures show that over 90% of decisions of immigration judges are never challenged – even though, as noted above, over 75% of removal cases end with a order of deportation.
By Carlos Batara, Immigration Law, Policy, And Politics