|(18 Jun 2019)
The latest case-by-case records from the Immigration Courts indicate that as of the end of May 2019 one or more removal hearings had already been held for nearly 47,000 newly arriving families seeking refuge in this country.
Of these, almost six out of every seven families released from custody had shown up for their initial court hearing. For those who are represented, more than 99 percent had appeared at every hearing. Thus, court records directly contradict the widely quoted claim that "90 Percent of Recent Asylum Seekers Skipped Their Hearings."
These findings were based upon a detailed analysis of court hearing records conducted by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. With rare exception virtually every family attended their court hearings when they had representation. Appearance rates at the initial hearing were 99.9 percent. One reason for these higher rates for represented families is that it is an attorney's responsibility to keep on top of when and where their client's hearing is scheduled, and communicate these details to them. Thus, even if the court's notification system fails, the family still finds out where and when to appear for their hearing.
Under our current system, there is no legal requirement that immigrants actually receive notice, let alone timely notice, of their hearing. Given many problems in court records on attendance that TRAC found, and in the system for notifying families of the place and time of their hearings, these appearance rates were remarkably high. TRAC's examination of court records also showed that there were nearly ten thousand "phantom" family cases on the court's books. These were cases entered into the Immigration Court's database system but with little information apart from a case sequence number. The date of the notice's filing, charges alleged, and particulars on the family were all blank.
Most courts showed patterns very similar to national appearance rates -- with represented families' appearance rates close to 100 percent, and unrepresented families somewhat lower. Full details by nationality and court are available at:
In addition, a number of TRAC's free query tools - which track the court's overall backlog, new DHS filings, court dispositions and much more - have now been updated through May 2019. For an index to the full list of TRAC's immigration tools and their latest update go to:
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