New Immigration Court Data Released, Even More Records Missing Despite Assurances

Despite assurances that the next release of data on Immigration Court proceedings by the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) would be reviewed for accuracy, the new data released late last Friday revealed continuing quality issues. In fact, even greater numbers of previously released records were inexplicably missing.

TRAC raised concerns to EOIR leadership after finding significant irregularities in previously published data (report available here), and sent a letter (available here) to the Director McHenry. To illustrate the problem, that letter enclosed a list of 1,507 applications for relief which were present in EOIR's August 2019 release but were missing from EOIR's September 2019 release. The missing cases included many asylum applications, both pending and closed. TRAC asked that Director McHenry resolve these issues, disclose the steps his agency was taking to prevent these issues in the future, and correct counterfactual statements made by his office. TRAC offered its assistance and support so that the agency could in the future provide the public with more accurate and reliable data.

Director McHenry did not respond to TRAC's letter. However, an agency representative assured TRAC that the Office of Information Technology (OIT) would review the Immigration Court data before future data releases. Indeed, to accommodate this review, the EOIR suspended its monthly release cycle until OIT completed its review. The agency representative told TRAC that this review would investigate why the 1,507 relief applications TRAC had sent Director McHenry had not been included in EOIR's last release.

Even after OIT's review, TRAC found that none of the 1,507 missing applications for relief were restored in EOIR's latest release. To the contrary, more records of all types were now missing from the latest data. For example, TRAC found 3,799 relief applications previously included in EOIR's August 2019 release were now missing from last Friday's release. This included 1,714 applications for asylum that have either been withheld from the public or apparently deleted from the court's files.

The increased disappearance of Immigration Court records amplifies previous concerns about the agency's commitment to providing the public with accurate and reliable data about the Immigration Court's operations.

TRAC has submitted a second letter to Director McHenry (available here), requesting that the agency release the findings of the Office of Information Technology's review, respond directly to the public's growing concern over missing records, and advise TRAC of steps the agency is taking to resolve the agency's compounding data mismanagement troubles.

TRAC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit data research center affiliated with the Newhouse School of Public Communications and the Whitman School of Management, both at Syracuse University. For more information, to subscribe, or to donate, contact or call 315-443-3563.