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Report finds federal government is losing more deportation cases

The Transactional Records Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, whose stated purpose is to gather "comprehensive information about staffing, spending, and enforcement activities of the federal government," recently released a very eye-opening report discussing how immigrants are faring in the fight against deportation.

Somewhat surprisingly, the TRAC report reveals that almost half of all immigrants facing deportation over the course of the last year have emerged victorious in their legal battles to stay in the U.S.

Breaking the numbers down, the TRAC report found:

  • Immigration judges have heard 42,816 deportation cases since the start of fiscal year 2014 back in October and since that time have ruled in favor of immigrants in nearly 50 percent of cases.
  • Immigrants have seen higher success rates in immigration courts located in California, Oregon and New York.
  • Attorneys with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who represent the federal government in the immigration courts, won roughly 52 percent of their cases in 2013.
  • ICE attorneys have been losing more deportation cases with each passing year since 2009.

Curiously, experts are somewhat baffled as to the reasons for this trend given that immigration laws here in the U.S. have not undergone any substantial changes over the last few years. However, some are theorizing that the trend can perhaps be attributed to a concerted effort by the Obama administration to change its approach to immigration law enforcement.

For instance, the administration has issued a series of policy orders over the last few years directing ICE to exercise greater discretion in deportation cases, such that less of an effort is made to deport those immigrants who have been here in the U.S. for many years, and who pose no threat to public safety or national security.

"ICE's enforcement strategies and policies are designed to prioritize its resources on public safety, national security and border security threats," said a spokesperson for the agency. "ICE continues to focus on sensible, effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes the removal of criminal aliens and those apprehended at the border while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States."

While these TRAC report figures are certainly encouraging, many experts are warning that it's still far too early to draw any real conclusions. In the meantime, here's hoping the trend of more people successfully fighting deportation in the immigration courts continues for the foreseeable future.

Source: The Washington Post, "Report: Immigrants improve in fighting deportation," Feb. 13, 2014

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