Overview. This tool provides details about each deportation case initiated in Immigration Court by the Department of Homeland Security, and its predecessor the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Our immigration court system was established by Congress to conduct deportation proceedings and decide "whether foreign-born individuals, who are charged by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with violating immigration law, should be ordered removed from the United States."
Coverage. Tbe Immigration Court is part of the U.S. Justice Department and is part of the executive rather than the judicial branch of the federal government. As an administrative body, judges in the Immigration Court do not handle criminal cases. While the government is represented by a taxpayer-paid government attorney, because these are not considered criminal matters, individuals do not have any clear right to a court-appointed attorney if they cannot afford to pay for one themselves. This is true even though a basis for DHS seeking a deportation order may be because the individual had previously been convicted of particular types of crimes in a criminal court.
Not all deportation matters go through the immigration court system. Immigration Courts handle only those cases that require a court order before DHS can deport an individual. For many individuals, DHS is authorized by Congress to administratively deport an individual and bypass the Immigration Courts.
While the vast majority of cases handled by Immigration Courts are deportation cases, the court also handles other types of special proceedings. However, this particular tool is limited to those court cases involving deportation - also referred to as -- removal proceedings.
Data Source. The data accessible through the data tool are based upon analyses by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University of court records obtained from the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) using the Freedom of Information Act. EOIR is the administrative body that supervises the operation of the Immigration Court system. The names of the individuals, as well as any other personal identifiers, are removed from the records before the information is released to TRAC.
The data are organized by the date on the DHS-issued "Notice to Appear " (NTA) - the charging document issued by DHS to persons who face removal. Often there is a delay between when the NTA is issued, and when DHS actually files the NTA in Immigration Court. TRAC has relied upon court records for this app because DHS has refused to provide case-by-case details on each NTA it has issued.
Once a judge issues a deportation order it is the responsibility of DHS to carry out that order and therefore court records end where a final deportation order has been entered. Thus the outcome of a court case is a ruling by an immigration judge; the data do not track when or whether the individual was actually deported following this ruling.
Because the information in this app is based upon court records, statistics on recent monthly filings will lag behind the actual number of NTAs that have been issued. For example, because of the lag between when DHS issued an NTA and it filed the charging document in court, for many months after President Trump assumed office the majority of filings in Immigration Court were NTAs that had actually been issued when President Obama was still in office. Basing this tool upon the date of the NTA avoids this problem and is the only approach that allows a clear demarcation between those actions initiated under each presidential administration.
Geographic Location. There are multiple indicators of geographic location available through this app. The first, is the state in which the headquarters ("base city") of the Immigration Court handling the case is located. More recent additions ("Immigrant State" and "Immigrant County") use the immigrant's address recorded in the court's records. TRAC has converted the recorded zip code in the address to the corresponding state and county of the immigrant's residence. Where the individual is currently detained, the address normally corresponds with the detention facility address.
Note that if the immigrant moves while Immigration Court proceedings are ongoing, available court records only show the last reported address. Thus, historical statistics as well as "initial status" addresses as compared with "current status" measures could be based upon a later address for that immigrant and not the one at the time of that particular stage in the court's proceedings. Note that for a number of cases the immigrant's address was unavailable. This occurred more often with older court records.
Using the Data Tool: Controlling Table and Graph Displays
Filtering the data using the three data columns. The data filter from left to right, so that as you select a dimension in the left table, it will then show you the sub-categories of data within that particular selection in the tables to the right. In other words, click on a category in the left table to display only cases within that class in the middle table and in the time series graph. Click on a category in the middle table to display only cases within that class in the right table and in the time series graph.
Number/percent toggle. By default, the number of cases is displayed in the graph. To instead display the value as a percent of the total for your current selection, choose the "Percent" option to the right of the graph. (Note: 100 percent will be displayed if the total ("All") was the category you have currently selected.)
Choosing the time scale for the graph. You can select whether you want the bars in the time series graph to represent the month or the year that the case was initiated using the radial buttons to the left of the graph.
Displaying values for a particular bar in a graph. Mousing over an individual bar in the time series graph produces a pop-up window where the particular statistical value is displayed.
Selecting the initial court filing versus the latest proceeding in a case. The default selection shows the current status of each proceeding. If you want to examine what happened in the initial filing, select "Initial Filing" using the radial button to the left of the graph. (For additional information see "Further Notes" below.)
Using the Data Tool: Controlling Which Factor Is Displayed
Data dimensions. To change the set of categories displayed in a table, select a different factor from the pull-down menu above that table. The following factors can be selected:
The federal government's fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30. So, for example, FY 2013 will return cases filed from October 1, 2012 through September 30, 2013.
Further Notes: Initial Filing versus Current Status. Immigration court cases are frequently transferred between court locations. Select the measure "Initial Filing" to see the court location where the case was originally filed and what happened in the proceeding taking place at that location. If the case was transferred to a different court location, the outcome shown will be "Case Transferred." Whether the individual was represented, his or her custody status, and the outcome are always specific to the proceeding in that initial location.
To find out the court's decision to date for all cases or on whether the case is still pending, select "Current Status." When a case has transferred one or more times between court locations, this selection will give you the proceeding at the last location. For cases that have been closed, it will give you the Immigration Judge's decision in the case indicating whether the person was ordered deported or allowed to remain in the country. As before, whether the person was represented, his or her custody status, and the outcome are specific to this last proceeding. (If the case was never transferred, the last location is the same as the initial location.)
 Totals may differ slightly for dimensions involving immigrant addresses because of rounding error. Rounding error is introduced because the process of assigning county and state for zip codes that cross county or state boundaries utilize probabilities with fractional values.
Additional TRAC Immigration Enforcement Data and Tools
To access additional data using other TRAC immigration enforcement tools, go to
this directory of data tools.