Putting TRAC to Work
  Legal and Scholarly
Migration Policy Institute
April 2014

The Deportation Dilemma: Reconciling Tough and Humane Enforcement
By Marc R. Rosenblum and Doris Meissner with Claire Bergeron and Faye Hipsman

One set of questions surrounds the degree to which the exercise of discretion varies across ICE field offices. For example, research by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University finds that the DHS-DOJ prosecutorial discretion initiative to clear low-priority cases out of immigration court backlogs has had varying results across jurisdictions. Since 2011, five immigration courts (Seattle, Tucson, Los Angeles, Omaha, and Phoenix) dismissed their removal cases at a rate of 20 percent or higher, while the rate in other cities is much lower: 1.7 percent in Houston, 3.7 percent in New York City, 5 percent in Chicago, and 6.3 percent in Miami. A second series of TRAC reports found that DHS priority guidance has also been inconsistent when it comes to ICE detainers or "immigration holds." In particular, guidelines issued in December 2012 on the use of detainers have yielded uneven results across the country and for certain groups of people. Since the detainer memo was issued, half of holds were placed on individuals with no prior criminal conviction and just 2 percent of individuals subjected to a detainer had been convicted of a serious (Level 1) offense. In some states, the percentage of individuals held with no criminal record was much higher than the national average, including Missouri (74 percent), Alabama (73 percent), and Kansas (71 percent), while in others, it was much lower, including Idaho (29 percent), Virginia (34 percent), and Connecticut (35 percent)......[Citing TRAC research].

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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