200,000 Deportation Cases Dismissed Because Biden Admin Failed To File Paperwork

Illegal immigrants 'effectively left in legal limbo without any way to pursue asylum,' says non-partisan data analytics group
TIJUANA, MEXICO - APRIL 29: People climb a section of border fence to look toward supporters in the U.S. as members of a caravan of Central American asylum seekers arrive to a rally on April 29, 2018 in Tijuana, Baja California Norte, Mexico. More than 300 immigrants, the remnants of a caravan of Central Americans that journeyed across Mexico to ask for asylum in the United States, have reached the border to apply for legal entry. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
David McNew/Getty Images

The Biden administration failed to file court papers in hundreds of thousands of deportation cases, which were as a result tossed by judges.

The Department of Homeland Security enforces immigration laws by issuing a Notice to Appear (NTA) to each illegal immigrant and filing it in court. But in approximately 200,000 cases in which NTAs were issued to aliens at the border, triggering the creation of a court date, DHS never filed the actual paper with the court, according to new data obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, an academic group better known as TRAC.

In immigration courts in Houston, Texas, and Miami, Florida, both immigration hotbeds, more than half of their deportation cases have been dismissed for that reason since fiscal year 2021.

“These large numbers of dismissals and what then happens raise serious concerns,” the nonpartisan group, affiliated with Syracuse University, said in its report. The percentage of immigration cases that were dismissed skyrocketed immediately upon President Joe Biden taking office, rising from 0.1% in 2017 and 1.2% in 2019 to 10.6% in 2021.

The percentage of cases dismissed has shrunk since that peak, but with the number of illegal border-crossers at record highs, the actual number of dismissals was far higher in 2022 and 2023 than at any time on record.  

If the case is dismissed because the government has not filed paperwork by the time the court date rolls around, the government can simply file a new case against the alien. But TRAC obtained data that allowed it to see that nearly 75% of the time, DHS never bothered to do so. 

That has remained constant through Biden’s term. And, in some cases, what would appear to be a clerical mistake is virtually never corrected: At the DHS’ Baltimore location, it made a second attempt at deporting the alien only 2% of the time.

“This suggests that in three-quarters of these 200,000 cases the immigrant was effectively left in legal limbo without any way to pursue asylum or other means of relief,” TRAC wrote.

The data experts at TRAC have frequently complained that immigration agencies have been tight-lipped and prone to turning over faulty or incomplete data.

“No information to our knowledge has been publicly released by DHS on why and where these problems occur,” it wrote. “Troubling is the almost total lack of transparency on where and why these DHS failures occurred. Equally troubling is the lack of solid information on what happened to these many immigrants when DHS never rectified its failure by reissuing and filing new NTAs to restart their Court cases.”

TRAC previously reported that 50,000 asylum files mysteriously disappeared, allowing the Biden administration to “falsely report that its asylum backlog had been reduced this past year when in fact it had markedly grown.”

The Biden administration’s failure to file papers has the effect of jamming up immigration courts because time on the docket is reserved, but never used.

The dramatic change in immigration stats lining up precisely with Biden’s inauguration contradicts the president’s assertion that he cannot crack down on illegal immigration unless Congress passes new laws.

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