Tracking Outcomes of ICE Deportation Filings

Table 1. Immigration Court Decisions on
ICE Filings for Deportation Orders, FY 2011*
  Number Percent
Ordered Deported    
Removal ordered 107,088 57.0%
Voluntary departure ordered 25,253 13.4%
Subtotal 132,341 70.5%
Allowed to stay in U.S.    
Relief granted 26,527 14.1%
Case terminated
(no grounds for removal)
20,437 10.9%
Administratively closed 8,532 4.5%
Subtotal 55,496 29.5%
Total completed cases 187,837 100.0%
* through July 26, 2011.

During the first ten months of FY 2011, judges in the nation's Immigration Courts dealt with a total of 187,837 filings by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seeking deportation orders. An analysis of case-by-case information obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) has determined that as a result, the judges ordered the deportation of 132,341 individuals (or 70.5 percent) of this total.[1]

The information further showed that in the remaining 55,496 (or 29.5 percent) of these cases, the individuals were allowed to remain in the country. Details are shown in Table 1.

As TRAC has previously reported, the proportion allowed to stay in the United States had been rising since shortly after President Obama took office. However, during the recent period — January to July 2011 — the proportion who were given permission to remain declined, again falling below 30 percent. Consequently the proportion of matters where the judges ordered that an individual be deported moved higher (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Percent of ICE Immigration Court Filings
for Deportation Orders Not Granted, by Quarter.

Full details about how the Immigration Judges handled the ICE deportation requests can be viewed by using TRAC's new Deportation Outcomes application, now current with data through the end of July 2011. The information, which includes the type of charge, the nationality of the individual involved and the location of each action, can be examined by state, Immigration Court and hearing location.

Outcome by Charge

A removal proceeding begins when ICE files a charging document — called a "Notice to Appear" — in one of the nation's 50 plus Immigration Courts. The charging document contains one or more specific immigration violations that ICE alleges support its request for the deportation order.

For 152,488 (or 81.2 percent) of the cases completed during the first ten months of FY 2011, ICE charged that the individual had violated only the immigration rules. More precisely, that the individual had entered the country illegally, entered legally but overstayed their visa, or violated other procedural requirements.

In the remainder of the cases, at least one of the charges involved more serious offenses. The most common of these were allegations that the individual had been convicted of, or had engaged in, criminal activities. Less common was the allegation that someone was a terrorist or national security risk.

Overall, those charged with more serious charges — engaging in a criminal or terrorism activity, or being a threat to national security — were subject to deportation orders only slightly more frequently than those charged only with violating the immigration rules. According to the court data, while 70.3 percent of those charged with immigration violations were ordered deported, such orders occurred in 75.7 percent of those cases where the individual was charged with more serious offenses.

Thus far during FY 2011 there were only two occasions when ICE alleged that individuals had engaged in terrorist activities. The two same individuals also were charged with violating immigration rules. The data, however, further show that in both cases the agency failed to convince the court that its terrorism claims had any merit.

In the first case, ICE ultimately withdrew the terrorism charge against the individual from El Salvador; the Miami-Krome Immigration Judge handling the matter sustained the immigration charge and entered an order of voluntary departure.

In the second case, a judge in the San Francisco court rejected the two terrorism charges brought by ICE against an individual from Fiji but sustained the immigration charge. That individual was not ordered deported because of other relief provided under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Instead, the individual was allowed to remain in the country and the application to be classified as a legal permanent resident under Section 245 of the INA was granted by the Immigration Judge.

Other Selected Highlights

Outcome by Immigration Court. According to the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), there are currently 50 Immigration Courts that have the status of "base cities." These courts are located in different parts of the country and naturally vary in the makeup of the cases brought by ICE seeking issuance of deportation orders.

Further, ICE's success in having its requests for such orders granted varies widely among these courts. Indeed, for the ten-month period under review, in eight of these courts less than half of the ICE filings resulted in deportation orders, while at the other extreme were courts in which a deportation order was granted on virtually every case.

ICE was least successful in the court based in New York City where only 28.8 percent of the subject individuals were ordered deported. Miami was second with deportation orders entered in 40.3 percent of all cases, followed by Philadelphia with 42.7 percent. In fourth place was Portland, Oregon with 46.1 percent ordered deported, followed by Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, with 46.2 percent.

At the other extreme were seven Immigration Courts where the judges ordered the deportation of 90 percent or more of the cases they heard. Each of these seven courts specialized in hearing cases almost exclusively for individuals who had been detained. Despite being detained, only a minority of individuals appearing in these courts were charged with having engaged in criminal activities, let alone being a terrorist or national security risk.

The case-by-case data showed that the highest proportion of deportation orders (98.8 percent) were issued by the judges in the Lumpkin, Georgia Immigration Court. The next highest, with 96.9 percent of cases resulting in deportation orders, was the Tucson Immigration Court. It was followed closely by the Oakdale Immigration Court with 96.2 percent. The Houston-Detained Immigration Court was in fourth place with 94.0 percent of its cases resulting in a deportation order, followed by the Eloy Immigration Court with a rate of 91.3 percent.

Outcome by Nationality. The odds of becoming the subject of a deportation order varied widely by nationality. Limiting comparisons to the 50 countries with the largest number of cases completed during the first ten months of FY 2011, Mexico had the highest proportion who were ordered deported at 86.8 percent. The nation in second place was Honduras with Immigration Judges ordering 84.4 percent deported. Next came Guatemala where 81.8 percent were ordered deported. El Salvador was a distant fourth with 69.5 percent ordered deported, followed closely by Bolivia with 67.7 percent.

Among the top 50 nationalities the government was least successful in its deportation efforts for Eritrea (13.1 percent), Ethiopia (20.7 percent), Egypt and Haiti (each tied at 24.7 percent), followed by Iran (27.8 percent).

[1] We used the term "deportation" in a generic sense — whether legally labeled as removal, deportation, or expulsion based upon inadmissibility grounds. Further, under the heading deportation we have also counted orders of voluntary departure. See glossary.