Wednesday, June 3, 2020

TRAC Immigration: EOIR's Data Release on Asylum So Deficient Public Should Not Rely on Accuracy of Court Records


This is an amazing update from TRAC Immigration.  It begins:

"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[1]. 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[2].

The EOIR's apparent reckless deletion of potentially irretrievable court records raises urgent concerns that without immediate intervention the agency's 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. Left unaddressed, the number of deleted records will compound each month and could trigger an expensive data crisis at the agency. 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."

In my estimation, TRAC reports have generally been matter-of-fact.  This one includes some deeply disturbing red flags:

"EOIR Data Irregularities Approaching Point of No Return

Despite TRAC's appeals to the EOIR, Immigration Court records continue to disappear each month." 

"TRAC Urges EOIR to Take Immediate Action

To date, the EOIR has not responded to TRAC's requests for an explanation of these disappearances, nor has the EOIR responded to TRAC's FOIA requests for records that would shed light on this matter.

Therefore, TRAC has written a third letter to Director McHenry reporting our findings of 68,282 new disappearances and we are again seeking a commitment from him to take the steps needed to address the problem.  More urgently, we are asking 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."


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