Fewer Immigrants Face Deportation Based on Criminal-Related Charges in Immigration Court
(28 Jul 2022) Over the past decade, the number of criminal-related charges listed on Notices to Appear as the basis for deportation has declined dramatically. In 2010, across all Notices to Appear (NTAs) received by the immigration courts that year, ICE listed a total of 57,199 criminal-related grounds for deportation. By 2021, just over a decade later, that number dropped to 8,694, less than a sixth of its original height.

Typically, more criminal charges are listed on court documents for non-citizens who were admitted into the country lawfully compared to those who entered the country unlawfully. For instance, in FY 2021, a total of 5,895 criminal-related charges were listed on NTAs for lawfully admitted immigrants compared to 2,799 for immigrants who were not lawfully admitted.

This trend emerges at the same time that Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) immigration enforcement activities throughout the United States have expanded dramatically through programs such as 287(g) and Secure Communities, and at the same time that questions about the relationship between immigration and crime have taken center stage in political discourse.

Criminal related grounds for deportation are not, in themselves, criminal charges, and deportation hearings are not trials to determine criminal guilt. In fact, some criminal grounds for deportation do not require an underlying criminal conviction at all. Moreover, non-citizens may have a criminal record that is not represented on an NTA. Nonetheless, due to the increasingly complex and overlapping relationship between the criminal justice system and the immigration enforcement systems—what some immigration experts have called “crimmigration”—TRAC has begun tracking the volume and type of criminal-related charges listed on NTAs each year.

TRAC’s new Criminal Grounds for Deportation table makes annual charge totals available starting in fiscal year 2017 and updates each month with current data. The charges listed represent all charges on all NTAs received by the court, not the number of cases. Individual cases may involve one or multiple criminal-related grounds for deportation. The underlying data for this table comes from case-by-case Immigration Court records which were obtained and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University through a series of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).

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