Nearly 200,000 Deportation Cases Dismissed Because of Paperwork

( – In 1989, the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) was established at Syracuse University. This non-profit and non-partisan organization gathers, researches, and distributes various types of data. Recently, TRAC released some information about a large number of immigration court cases where it appears the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) dropped the ball.

On March 20, TRAC reported that nearly 200,000 deportation cases were dismissed by immigration judges in the last three years because DHS didn’t file a Notice to Appear (NTA) with the court in a timely manner. The organization explained that if the judge doesn’t have an NTA by the time an immigration case comes before the court, that court doesn’t have jurisdiction to hear it.

DHS is tasked with filing an NTA with the court to ask the judge to remove a migrant from the United States. The form includes information about why the agency believes the person should be deported and asks an immigration judge to grant the order. According to TRAC, the new immigration court system allowed DHS to schedule hearings before issuing the required paperwork. The hearings would make it onto the calendar, but couldn’t proceed without the NTA.

NTAs are also issued to asylum seekers at the border who appear in court only to find out they can’t plead for asylum because the proper paperwork is missing. The judge is reportedly left with no choice but to dismiss, and the migrant has to wait until DHS files an NTA and schedules a new hearing. Meanwhile, they can’t work, and that can be detrimental to their families.

The non-profit organization reported that between 2021 and February 2024, 192,861 cases were dismissed because there was no NTA. The re-issue rate within one year over that timeframe was between 24.2% and 26.9%. While TRAC said the report shows an “incomplete picture,” the “lack of transparency” about why this is happening is “troubling.”

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