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Latest Figures on the Use of Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Court Cases

On Behalf of | Mar 24, 2015 | Uncategorized

Table re PD in Immig Ct. CasesAILA Doc. No. 15032462

Posted 3/24/2015

There has been no drop-off in the government’s use of prosecutorial discretion (PD) as a basis to close cases and allow an individual to remain in this country, according to case-by-case Immigration Court records current through February 2015.

Since October 2011 (FY 2012), a total of 6.7 percent of all Immigration Court completions were PD closures. During January and February 2015, the rate of recent PD closures was even higher than the long term average. For the 28,703 cases recorded as closed during this two month period, a total of 2,389 or 8.3 percent were PD closures.

Variation in PD Usage by Hearing Location

However, the use of PD closures varies widely depending upon the hearing location. This is true whether examining cumulative usage since FY 2012 or focusing just on recent PD closures.

Cumulative PD Usage. For hearing locations that closed at least 200 cases since FY 2012, recorded PD closures over this cumulative period ranged from none at all to a high of 39.1 percent. The five locations with the highest PD usage rates were: Tucson, Arizona (39.1%); Seattle, Washington (26.3%); Omaha, Nebraska (24.7%); Los Angeles, California (24.5%); and Charlotte, North Carolina (18.1%).

If the focus is simply on those hearing locations where the greatest number of PD closures occurred during this period, then the clear standout was Los Angeles with a total of 13,333 PD dispositions. This accounted for roughly one out of every four of all PD closures nationwide. This is because the Los Angeles court handled a particularly large caseload along with having a high PD closure rate. Despite much smaller caseloads, Charlotte was second with 2,616 PD closures, followed by Seattle with 2,207. Even with much lower PD closure rates, New York City (2,102) and San Francisco (1,925) came in fourth and fifth respectively, due to their relatively large caseloads.

To see the complete list of hearing locations and the number as well as rate of PD closure, see TRAC’s prosecutorial discretion tool which is updated each month.

January — February 2015 PD Usage. Among the 63 hearing locations that recorded closing 100 or more cases during January and February 2015, more than half had fewer than 5 PD closures and 29 locations had none (see Table 1).

At the other extreme, 62.6 percent of Tucson, Arizona’s 195 Immigration Court closures resulted from the exercise of prosecutorial discretion. The next highest rate was found in Los Angeles, California, with one third (33.8%) of its 3,141 completions due to PD closures. In third place was Atlanta, Georgia with a PD closure rate of 23.1 percent during this same period. Bloomington, Minnesota – BLM with a PD closure rate of 19.4 percent, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with an 18.1 percent PD closure rate were fourth and fifth, respectively. All of these rates represent a considerable jump over their cumulative rates since FY 2012.

Table 1 lists all 63 hearing locations reporting at least 100 closures during February, along with the number of PD closures and the PD closure rate for January and February 2015 as compared with their cumulative rates since FY 2012. Sort by any column to focus on different characteristics.