Friday, April 20, 2012
A special Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program announced last August to reduce the massive backlog of pending matters by identifying those that could be dismissed or put on hold has resulted in the closure of 2,609 cases, according to government data covering the period up to the end of March. The backlog reduction is less than one percent of the 298,173 cases pending before the Immigration Courts as of the end of last September. The stated goal of the ICE program was to better prioritize and reduce the backup of pending matters that had led to lengthy delays in the proceedings of noncitizens it wanted to deport. So far, however, the pace of these closures has not been sufficient to stop the growth in the court's backlog. In fact, as of the end of March 2012, the Immigration Court backlog had risen to 305,556 matters. These and other results — by court and hearing location — are based upon analyses of very recent case-by-case records obtained from the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University.