Putting TRAC to Work
  Legal and Scholarly
Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Degree Doctor of Philosophy in the Graduate School of the Ohio State University
2017

Dissertation Notice to Appear: Immigration Courts and the Legal Production of Illegalized Immigrants
By Austin Christopher Kocher, Graduate Program in Geography


The under-resourced immigration courts are producing a growing class of semi-permanent respondents in proceedings (i.e. who have a case pending before the courts) whose precarious legal existence is prolonged as a result of repeated delays and growing court backlogs. Despite collectively completing 516,031 cases in 2016, as of January 2017 immigration judges currently have a backlog of 533,909 cases, with an average processing time of well over 678 days. Asylum decisions are useful barometers of discretion, since asylum is a discretionary benefit that tends to receive the most consistent statistical reporting. Using Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (2017b) data on asylum cases between 2009 and 2014 across all judges and all courts, the average rate of success for asylum applications was 41.9%. When narrowed to the rates of success by judge, the picture grows considerably diverse. Judge Howard Rose assigned to the detained court in Houston, Texas granted none (0%) of the 183 applications for asylum over the five-year period, while Judge Elizabeth Lamb assigned to the New York City immigration court granted 96.1% of her 1,346 asylum cases over the same period. Part of the explanation for these remarkably divergent outcomes has to do with factors such as whether the court is for detained respondents, nationality of clients, and access to legal counsel. But this doesnít explain why Judge Jimmie Benton in the courtroom next to Judge Rose granted 11.7% of asylum cases.......[Citing TRAC research].


Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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