Putting TRAC to Work
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The Washington Post
February 9, 2017

An Arizona mom is deported. How many others might face the same fate?
By Philip Bump

Susan Long is co-director of the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at the Syracuse University and a faculty member of the Whitman School in Management. TRAC compiles detailed data on immigration that it has received from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests from the government. That includes data on removal orders from immigration court and the actual number of people removed or returned each year. (There’s a distinction between those two things; the former is what we generally think of when we think of deportations.) What we might expect to see is that the number of orders is larger than the number of removals. After all, we’re considering a situation in which a person with a standing deportation order hadn’t yet been removed. But instead the data indicate far more removals than orders over the past decade or so. (The numbers are calculated by fiscal year, and numbers for 2016 and 2017 are incomplete.) One reason is that the same people can be removed multiple times — but that’s not the main reason. If your assumption is, instead, that this is because ICE removed people under years-old orders, that’s incorrect, according to TRAC’s Long. When I told her I was hoping to figure out how many outstanding orders there were, she laughed. “Increasingly, removal orders bypass the immigration court,” she explained. In a nutshell, that’s why the numbers in the chart above appear to be flipped: Many orders for removal don’t go through immigration court at all; instead they’re being issued through the Department of Homeland Security. “That obviously poses some challenges,” she said with understatement. Determining how many additional orders have been issued requires getting that data from the government, which TRAC has tried to do.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
Copyright 2017
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