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Immigration Impact
April 24, 2018

The Trump Administration Is Placing More Long-Residing Immigrants Into Court Proceedings
By Walter Ewing

For years, immigration enforcement officials prioritized recent border-crossers over long-time residents with U.S.-born children, clean criminal records, or other evidence of roots in the United States. This was done by exercising “prosecutorial discretion” in deciding against whom to initiate deportation proceedings. The basic idea was that scarce law-enforcement resources shouldn’t be wasted tracking down people who weren’t a danger to the public. That practice has radically changed under the Trump administration. Now, more cases are showing up in immigration court that involve longer-term residents of the United States rather than recent arrivals, according to an analysis of federal data by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. During March 2018, for example, court records show that only 10 percent of immigrants in court proceedings had just arrived in this country, while 43 percent had arrived two or more years ago. In contrast, the share of new cases involving individuals who had just arrived during December 2016—the last full month of the Obama administration—was 72 percent, while only six percent had been here at least two years. This uptick is also prevalent among immigrants who have resided in the country for even longer periods of time. According to TRAC, 20 percent of all new cases filed in March 2018 represented immigrants that had lived in the United States for five years or more.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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