One-Third of New Immigration Court Cases Are Children; One in Eight Are 0-4 Years of Age
(17 Mar 2022) Almost one-third of all new cases in Immigration Court are juveniles. Case-by-case Immigration Court records updated through February 2022 indicate that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued 310,359 Notices to Appear (NTA) so far during fiscal year 2022 (October 2021-February 2022). Where age is recorded, 81,080 or 31 percent of these immigrants were from 0 to 17 years of age at the time DHS issued the NTA. These counts underestimate the actual number of children since for an additional 15 percent the age was unknown.

The largest segment where age was recorded, some 32,691, were children from zero to four years of age. This represents 12 percent of cases received this fiscal year, or a little less than one out of every eight.

For over seven out of ten of these juveniles, surprisingly little is found in the Court's case-by-case records on their status. Were these children accompanied by one or both parents and thus part of a family group? Were they unaccompanied minors? TRAC was only able to determine whether these children were unaccompanied or part of a family group from the Court's records in slightly fewer than 30 percent of these cases. This makes it difficult for the public or the Court itself to monitor how these children are being handled, and whether their special needs are being adequately addressed as their cases move through the Immigration Court system.

Unfortunately, as TRAC previously documented, a reliable tracking system for the Court identifying children and whether they are unaccompanied or part of a family group has not been restored after the former system was discontinued under the Trump administration. Given the large segment of the Court's incoming caseload which involve children, restoring a reliable tracking system takes on added urgency.

Findings in this report are based on the analysis of case-by-case court records obtained through a series of Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests submitted by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University to the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).

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