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Border & Immigration

Report: Immigration Courts 'Flawed'


A new report by the Justice Department's Inspector General confirms something that's been widely known and reported across the border region: the nation's immigration courts are not keeping up with mounting caseloads. The findings state that the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the government agency that oversees immigration courts, is “flawed.” The 74-page report covered the fiscal years 2006-2010. Here are some of the findings:

The number of proceedings received grew about 5 percent, from 308,652 in FY 2006, to 325,326 in FY 2010.<br><br>During this same period, the number of proceedings the immigration courts completed decreased about 11 percent, from 324,040 to 287,207.<br><br>From 2006-2010, the overall efficiency of the courts did not improve even though there was an increase in the number of judges.
The report also included signs that the EOIR could be overstating their performance by counting cases multiple times.
Administrative events such as changes of venue and transfers are reported as completions even though the immigration courts have made no decisions on whether to remove aliens from the United States.<br><br>As a result, a case may be “completed” multiple times. Reporting these administrative actions as "completions" overstates the accomplishments of the immigration courts. Similarly, those same administrative events result in a case being reported as a “receipt” when the case is opened at the receiving court As a result, the same case may be reported as a “receipt” multiple times, thereby overstating the total number of matters opened by the immigration courts during a particular period.
inefficiencies of the EOIR and backlog of cases have been reported widely. The Justice Department has made nine recommendations for EOIR to improve the management of immigration cases.
  1. Improve reporting of immigration court data to distinguish decisions on the removal of aliens from other case activities and reflect actual case length even when more than one court is involved
  2. Eliminate case exemptions from completion goals to reflect actual case length, but identify case delays that EOIR considers outside the control of immigration judges
  3. Develop immigration court case completion goals for nondetained cases
  4. Analyze reasons for continuances and develop guidance that provides immigration judges with standards and guidelines for granting continuances to avoid unnecessary delays
  5. Develop a process for tracking time that immigration judges spend on different types of cases and work activities
  6. Collect and track data on its use of staffing details of judges
  7. Develop an objective staffing model to assist in determining staffing requirements and the allocation of positions among immigration courts
  8. Consider seeking additional resources or reallocating resources to reduce delays in the processing of appeals for non-detained aliens.
  9. Improve its collecting, tracking, and reporting of BIA appeal statistics to accurately reflect actual appeal processing times