Majority of New Family Immigration Court Cases Already in Sanctuary Cities
(23 Apr 2019) Despite the concern about the number of families arriving at the border seeking asylum, families continue to remain a minor proportion of new cases arriving at the Immigration Courts each month. For example, during March 2019, just 18.7 percent of the new cases that came in involved these families. Despite this, the court's backlog continues to climb and reached a new historic high of 869,013 cases on its active docket at the end of March.

After being released in border communities, families seldom remain there. Since September 2018, 32 courts in 24 states have received at least 100 new family cases. Over half of these cases are before courts headquartered in sanctuary cities. Among the top ten courts where family cases are located, six are usually classified as sanctuary jurisdictions. These courts include those in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago.

These results are based upon the latest court records analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. These data were obtained from the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Full data on what happens to families after they are arrested at the border, however, are not available. The Justice Department has now stopped providing TRAC with information needed to track the processing of asylum and related applications for relief. Information both on historical as well as new asylum applications are now being withheld during this review.

In addition, the government admits it lacks the ability to reliably follow cases when they are transferred from one agency to another. Without this information, agency officials are unable to effectively manage the situation. This appears to parallel the difficulties the government has had in reuniting children separated from their parents because separate record systems didn't pass along relevant information.

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