July 10, 2024

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Immigration Judges Dismiss 200,000 Deportation Cases Due to Paperwork Failures

About 200,000 deportation cases against migrants under President Joe Biden were recently dismissed by immigration judges because the Department of Homeland Security failed to file the required paperwork before their court dates, a report revealed.

According to a report from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, the Department of Homeland Security’s failure to file the necessary paperwork left the court with no jurisdiction to hear the cases, leaving immigrants, often asylum seekers, without a means to progress their cases.

The report expressed concern over the lack of transparency regarding the reasons for these failures and the absence of information on what happened to the affected immigrants when the DHS did not rectify its failure by reissuing and filing new Notices to Appear (NTAs) to restart their court cases.

Notices to Appear are issued to migrants caught crossing the border illegally, setting a hearing date for those seeking asylum to present their case before an immigration judge. However, these NTAs must be filed before the scheduled hearing.

The TRAC report highlighted a significant increase in cases dismissed due to the failure to file NTAs since Biden took office. The number rose from 6,482 in 2020 to 33,802 in 2021, reaching 79,592 in 2022 before decreasing to 68,869 in 2023. So far this year, 10,598 deportation cases have had to be dismissed due to missing NTAs.

While some dismissals are rectified by the DHS, the report found that one in four migrants affected by NTAs not filed had their cases dismissed. The problem of missing NTAs varied by geographic location, with certain immigration court locations, such as Houston, Texas, and Miami, Florida, experiencing higher rates of dismissals.

The report attributed these administrative problems to the authority given to Border Patrol agents and other DHS personnel to schedule immigration hearings using the Immigration Court’s Interactive Scheduling System (ISS). This led to instances where hearings were scheduled before NTAs were filed, causing delays and negative consequences for both the court and the immigrants involved.

These dismissals not only prolong the legal limbo for migrants but also exacerbate their struggles, especially for those with legitimate asylum claims who cannot obtain work permits until a formal asylum petition is filed.