Immigrants Fighting Deportation Have Highest Success Rate in 20 Years

Monday, February 17, 2014
Mexicans being deported from Texas (photo: LM Otero, AP)

Almost half of immigrants who fight deportation win their cases, according to a recent study. This is a marked improvement from their success rate only five years ago, and denotes the lowest level of deportations since regular tracking began two decades ago.


The Transactional Records Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, which collects and studies federal prosecution records, said immigrants have won 49.7% of the cases in the 2014 fiscal year, which began in October. In 2009, immigrants won only 23.8% of the time. The figures don’t account for cases the government pursues with the Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals.


Immigrants’ success in fighting deportation has a lot to do with where their cases are heard. Oregon saw immigrants’ best success rate, at 77.2%, followed by New York and California. The government fared best in Georgia, where only 19% of immigrants won their cases, followed by Louisiana and Utah.


Immigration and Customs Enforcement has deported more than 2 million immigrants under the Barack Obama administration, according to the Associated Press (AP). “ICE’s enforcement strategies and policies are designed to prioritize its resources on public safety, national security and border security threats,” ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen told AP. “ICE continues to focus on sensible, effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes the removal of criminal aliens and those apprehended at the border while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States.”


In recent years the administration has changed its approach to undocumented immigrants. In 2010, ICE set a quota of 400,000 immigrants to be deported. More recently, though, officials have urged the use of discretion in deciding which immigrants to deport. In 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was initiated, allowing thousands of young undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. and apply for a work permit.


But discretion still isn’t always the case. The American Civil Liberties Union late last year sent a letter to ICE asking it to refrain from stalking courthouses in and around Bakersfield in Kern County, California, seeking to arrest undocumented immigrants there to do things such as get married or pay parking tickets. “The arrests have prevented residents from complying with their obligations to pay citations and appear for court hearings, and from obtaining restraining orders, marriage licenses and other essential court services,” ACLU attorney Michael Kaufman wrote.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Report: Immigrants improve in fighting deportation (by Alicia A. Caldwell, Associated Press)

Immigration reform: More and more deportations are defeated in court (by Alicia A. Caldwell, Associated Press)

Immigration Agents Stalk Court Houses to Arrest People When They Pay Traffic Tickets or Get Married (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)

Immigration Officials Set Deportation Quotas, Shifting Focus from Dangerous Illegal Immigrants (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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