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Immigration Impact
August 9, 2023

Enforcement Priorities Are Back. What Will ICE Prosecutors Do With Them?
By Dara Lind

We don’t have similarly explicit data on OPLA’s implementation of enforcement priorities – i.e., their effect on outcomes in immigration court, rather than arrests and deportations. And because the Doyle memo was only in effect for one full calendar month, it’s hard to see a clear distinction between before, during, and after. But the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC)’s database of immigration court outcomes gives a little visibility. When it comes to a prosecutor’s choice to open a case against a noncitizen to begin with, the TRAC data strongly suggests that the OPLA priorities memo doesn’t constitute a massive change. In 2022 and 2023, over three-quarters of newly-filed deportation cases are against people who have been in the U.S. less than one year – who would, presumably, fit under the “border security” enforcement priority. The volume of new cases coming from the border is a substantial cause of the immigration court backlog – one that the administration’s crackdown on asylum seekers after the end of the Title 42 public-health order has, apparently, done little to alleviate. As long as people are considered enforcement priorities simply based on when they entered, the impact of prosecutorial discretion on new cases will be limited. When it comes to how a case is resolved, however, the data tells a different story.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
Copyright 2023
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