Immigration Judges Dismissing More Deportation Cases

December 01, 2010

Immigration judges are letting more illegal migrants stay in the country. Government records show that the Obama Administration is focusing its deportation efforts on those who have been convicted of crimes.

Most people who show up in front of an immigration judge still face deportation, but the Department of Homeland Security, and judges in Arizona, have doubled the number of cases where deportation orders are dropped compared to five years ago.

According to records from the Executive Office for Immigration Review, in the past fiscal year, nearly ten percent of all cases heard in Arizona were dismissed or the illegal migrant was given some sort of reprieve. In 2005, only four percent of cases were turned away.

John Messing, an immigration lawyer in Tucson, says most of those were people whose only crime was crossing the border.

"The Obama Administration is very clearly focusing its efforts on removing criminal aliens as a priority, whereas in previous years, it was just a kind of general mix of people, regardless of their prior record," Messing said.

Records show the same pattern is happening across the country. According to the Syracuse University Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, during the last few months of the 2010 fiscal year, immigration judges were rejecting nearly a third of the cases brought to them by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The institute claims the high numbers represent poor cases introduced by ICE, though it admits it doesn't have all the necessary data from ICE to arrive at that assertion.

That rejection rate is up about five percent from the previous year.