TRAC-Reports
DOJ Inspector General Overly Critical of EOIR Statistics
(02 Nov 2012) The Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Justice Department has just released a report (at http://www.justice.gov/oig/reports/2012/e1301.pdf) criticizing the statistics of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). Lost in the news coverage of the OIG's report are several important points:

- First, in criticizing the EOIR numbers, the OIG's report doesn't acknowledge that there is already a source for the very statistics it recommends EOIR develop: TRAC's public website. TRAC compiles these statistics each month using EOIR's official case-by-case records.

- Second, the OIG does not credit EOIR for the very important role the agency has played in the development of these TRAC statistics. We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the cooperation we have received from EOIR, which has been truly exceptional in expediting the release of its case-by-case data to TRAC each month under the Freedom of Information Act. Other federal agencies would do well to emulate EOIR's commitment to providing greater public transparency.

- Third, the OIG report doesn't acknowledge that the approach taken by EOIR in reporting its workload statistics isn't at all unusual. The same approach criticized by the OIG is used by the federal courts in their annual statistical reports, and by other Justice Department components including the Executive Office for United States Attorneys. When cases are transferred from one court to another, or one U.S. Attorney's office to another, the case is counted as a closing in one, and a new filing or receipt in the other. And while the widespread use of this method by other well-respected bodies does not mean that the OIG's criticism is without merit, it does place the issue into a broader context. When measuring "workload" there are equally valid reasons to support the approach used by EOIR and other organizations. Though TRAC long ago adopted the method OIG now recommends, there simply isn't just one "best" method.

Also missing from the news coverage is the fact that the OIG report does NOT question the accuracy of EOIR's data. The report's criticism is restricted to how EOIR defines a "proceeding" based on these data. This omission could be taken to suggest that EOIR's data are wrong. In fairness, the OIG report itself does make this distinction, but only in a footnote where the point could easily be overlooked.

Feel free to contact TRAC for more details about our statistics measuring the Immigration Court's workload, as well as the definitions reflected in the reports and data available on TRAC's public website. For TRAC's latest bulletin (current with data through September 2012) covering new Immigration Court filings, closures, backlog and processing times, go to:

http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/latest_immcourt/
To query the data directly to get the latest figures by nationality and by your locale, use the TRAC apps available at:
http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/tools/
To keep up with TRAC, follow us on Twitter @tracreports or like us on Facebook:
http://facebook.com/tracreports
TRAC is self-supporting and depends on foundation grants, individual contributions and subscription fees for the funding needed to obtain, analyze and publish the data we collect on the activities of the US Federal government. To help support TRAC's ongoing efforts, go to:
http://trac.syr.edu/sponsor/

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