About the Data

Overview. The Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) were formally announced by this administration on January 24, 2019. These protocols requires that certain citizens from other countries entering illegally or seeking admission without proper documentation to the U.S. from Mexico are "returned to Mexico and wait outside of the U.S. for the duration of their immigration proceedings." They are only allowed to temporarily enter the U.S. to attend their court hearings.

This MPP tool tracks proceedings in each Immigration Court case assigned to the MPP program under this "Remain in Mexico" policy. These MPP cases are a subset of those covered by the "Details" web query tool also available on TRAC's website. Even if an immigrant who is assigned to the MPP program succeeds in getting transferred out of the program, the case will continue to be tracked in this tool. This tool does not cover credible fear review proceedings, but focuses on what is commonly referred to as removal proceedings.

Coverage. The 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.

Data Source. The data accessible through the data tool are based upon analyses by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) 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 decision it is the responsibility of DHS to carry out that order or other decision. These subsequent events are not covered in this tool since the data is limited to hearings and immigration judge decisions in each case.

Because the information in this app is based upon court records, statistics on recent monthly filings can lag behind the actual number of NTAs that have been issued if there is a delay between when DHS issued an NTA and it filed the charging document in court.

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:
  • Fiscal Year Case Began. The fiscal year of the NTA's date. This is always based upon the fiscal year in which the DHS initiated the deportation action, not when the court decided the case. The federal government's fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30. So, for example, FY 2019 will return cases filed from October 1, 2018 through September 30, 2019.

  • Month and Year Case Began. The month and year of the NTA's date.

  • Immigration Court State. The state or territory where the Immigration Court assigned administrative responsibility for the case is located.

  • Immigration Court. There are Immigration Courts located in different parts of the country assigned the administrative responsibility for handling proceedings in their geographic district. Courts are usually referred to by the city or place where they are located - what EOIR refers to as their "base city."

  • Hearing Location. Special court locations have been set up to hear MPP cases. These usually have "MPP" as part of their name. Normally a hearing location is administered by a single Immigration Court.

  • Nationality. The recorded nationality of the individual.

  • Represented. Whether the individual did ("Represented") or did not ("Not Represented") have an attorney to help present the individual's case.

  • Custody. Whether the individual is detained, was detained but released from custody, or was never detained since court proceedings began.

  • How Long in the U.S. Displays how many years prior to the initiation of the case that court records indicate that the individual had been residing in the U.S.

  • Hearing Attendance. Whether immigrants attended all scheduled hearings versus had failed to appear at the last hearing and an "absentia order" in their absence had been entered by the judge. If no hearings have yet been held for a case, that is also indicated. Absentia decisions generally order individuals deported since they didn't appear and contest the government's deportation request. Given many problems in court records and in the system for notifying immigrants of the place and time of their hearings, lack of attendance may mean that the immigrant missed their hearing because no one told them one had been scheduled. Notification may be particularly problematic in MPP cases since the immigrant is residing outside the U.S. and usually doesn't have a permanent address. (See, "Most Released Families Attend Immigration Court Hearings." Usually multiple hearings are required before a decision is reached.

  • Outcome. This records the decision or basis for the Immigration Judge closing the case, and will also indicate if the case is still pending. The following decision outcomes are available:

    • Removal Orders. Cases in which an Immigration Court Judge sustains the charges against the individual and issues a removal order. The term "removal" is used in a generic sense and includes orders of deportation, exclusion, etc. A removal order bars the individual from returning to the U.S. for a period of years, or in some cases permanently.

    • Voluntary Departure Orders. Cases in which an Immigration Court Judge sustains the charges against the individual and issues an order of voluntary departure. A so- called "voluntary departure" is when the individual is required to leave the country but is not legally barred from returning - unnecessary in MPP cases since individuals already are outside the country.

    • Terminate Proceedings. Because immigrants are residing outside the country, in MPP cases a terminate decision ends the case, and the individual is not permitted to enter the U.S. A removal order isn't required unless the judge wants to bar them from attempting to reenter the U.S.

    • Relief Granted. Cases in which an Immigration Court Judge finds the original charges filed by DHS as the grounds for removal are sustained, but finds provisions in the immigration law entitle the individual to "relief" from removal (for example, asylum is granted), allowing the individual to enter this country.

    • Prosecutorial Discretion. The case is closed because the government attorney prosecuting the individual's case exercises prosecutorial discretion and drops the request for a removal order. (Only available for cases closed since FY 2012.) These individuals thus don't face a legal bar from seeking reentry to the U.S. in the future.

    • Other Closure. Cases in which an Immigration Court Judge decides to close the case for some other reason. This category also includes closures in which the individual is given a temporary protected status.

    • Transferred. The proceeding in a court at a particular location is closed so that the case can be transferred to a different location, sometimes referred to as a change in venue.

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 or administrative ruling closing the case. 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.)

Additional TRAC Immigration Enforcement Data and Tools

To access additional data using other TRAC immigration enforcement tools, go to this directory of data tools.