EOIR's Data Release on Asylum So Deficient Public Should Not Rely on Accuracy of Court Records
(03 Jun 2020) TRAC has concluded that the data updated through April 2020 it has just received on asylum and other applications for relief to the Immigration Courts are too unreliable to be meaningful or to warrant publication. We are therefore discontinuing updating our popular Immigration Court Asylum Decisions app, and will take other steps to highlight this problem. We also wish to alert the public that any statistics EOIR has recently published on this topic may be equally suspect, as will be any future reports the agency publishes until these major data deficiencies are explained and rectified.

The EOIR's apparent sloppy data management practices could undermine its ability to manage itself, thwart external efforts at oversight, and leave the public in the dark about essential government activities. And here the missing records are the actual applications for asylum, and how the court is handling them. This is a subject on which there is widespread public interest and concern.

Despite TRAC's appeals to the EOIR, Immigration Court records continue to disappear each month. Alarmingly, the number of relief applications that were present in the March 2020 data release but were missing in the April release jumped to 68,282. This is just the number of records that disappeared over a single month. It does not include the ever growing number of applications that had previously disappeared month-by-month. As was true in past months, roughly four out of five of the records in the March 2020 release that disappeared from April's release concerned applications on which the court had rendered its decision, including many cases in which the immigration judge had granted asylum as well as other forms of relief.

TRAC has just written a third letter to EOIR Director James McHenry. This time TRAC asked that the EOIR immediately preserve-rather than destroy-all back-up tapes or other media in the hopes that records apparently improperly deleted from the Court's master files might be restored. We alerted him to the recent disappearance of 68,282 applications for relief, and again asked him to take the steps needed to address the problem of official court records disappearing.

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