Putting TRAC to Work
  Legal and Scholarly
Center for Immigration Studies
October 2011

Built to Fail: Deception and Disorder in America’s Immigration Courts
By Mark H. Metcalf

A detailed study of the recent performance of the Immigration Courts — undertaken by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) — draws upon a variety of sources including hundreds of thousands of internal administrative records obtained from EOIR under the Freedom of Information Act. The key conclusion: the failure of the Justice Department even to fill existing judge vacancies, combined with growth in the number of matters the judges are handling each year, has exacted some very real costs ... The backlog of immigration cases awaiting disposal by judges is steadily increasing. Just since the end of FY 2006 this backlog has grown by 19 percent. And over the past decade, the backlog of cases has increased by 64 percent.” The backlog TRAC identifies stretched back to 1998 when unfinished cases then numbered 129,482. How this number can be reconciled with OMB’s declaration that 3,965 cases remained backlogged in 2008 from a batch numbering 161,112 in 2003 is not clear without more information. Two things are certain, though. Neither Congress nor the public were informed of the backlog prior to the TRAC study. Likewise, the backlog has a history indicating some cases were 11 years old when the study was published on June 19, 2009........[citing TRAC research].

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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