Wednesday, July 16, 2014
The recent surge of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children attempting to enter the country has touched off a heated debate. Some ask whether having Immigration Judges decide the fate of these children only postpones their inevitable deportation since it is alleged that few have any valid claim to remain in the United States. Others hotly dispute this contention. This special report presents information derived from current and detailed case-by-case Immigration Court records tracing decisions on removal orders sought by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) concerning unaccompanied children who have been apprehended by the agency.
The data, current through June 30, 2014, was obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University from the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) under the Freedom of Information Act. The data trace the status of over 100,000 such cases. The information includes every instance over the last decade flagged as a juvenile case currently recorded in EOIR files. In each of these cases, the Department of Homeland Security instituted the action requesting that the court issue an order to deport these children. Because the DHS has authority to screen and then immediately deport unaccompanied Mexican children without any formal hearing, only a small proportion of children from Mexico are referred to the Immigration Court by the DHS. For this reason unaccompanied children who are immediately deported by DHS are not part of the court data examined here.