Featured News 2014 Court Data: Immigrants Find Increasing Success in Removal Hearings

Court Data: Immigrants Find Increasing Success in Removal Hearings

Last week, the Associated Press reported that immigrants in the deportation (or removal) process have been winning an increasing percentage of their cases in the past few years. Federal court records show that since 2009, the number of immigrants who have successfully defended against deportation has been steadily improving. Keep reading to get the details on this growing trend in immigration courts.

Recent Statistics in Deportation Hearings

In 2013, almost half of deportation hearings were won by immigrants appealing the removal decision. This is based on information gathered by Syracuse University's Transactional Records Clearinghouse (TRAC). Data from TRAC shows that California, New York, and Oregon have produced the most successful results for immigrants. On the other hand, judges have ruled against immigrants more in Georgia, Louisiana, and Utah courts.

To get more specific, as of October, 2013, immigrants have won nearly half of their deportation cases, and there were 42,816 cases heard in these past few months. For the whole of 2013, immigrants won in approximately 48 percent of cases. These numbers mean that victories for immigrants in court are on the rise, but the exact reasons for this are uncertain.

While the laws for deportation have not been changed, how courts approach these cases has. The federal government dismissed tens of thousands of cases when it reviewed its colossal backlog of cases in 2011. After that point, the Obama administration advised that prosecutorial discretion should be exercised when a deportation case involved an immigrant who was not a threat to the public's safety.

According an (ICE) spokesperson, ICE wants to be "sensible" in how policies are enforced, "prioritiz[ing] the removal of criminal aliens" and those who are caught trying to illegally cross the border. Thus prosecutorial discretion may be enabling more undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States. If an immigrant applies for prosecutorial discretion, this means that they are asking that their removal proceedings be closed because their case is a low-priority one. There are other ways to fight against deportation proceedings, which include, and certainly are not limited to:

  • Adjustment of Status. This changes your status from nonimmigrant to legal immigration status, which is one way to get a green card. This is possible in some cases even if there has not been lawful entry.
  • Asylum. This status is available to people who fear persecution in their native country, and this could provide them with a work permit, and one day, a green card.
  • Cancellation of Removal. This is for immigrants who are not lawful permanent residents, enabling them to get a green card if it can be proved that they were in the U.S. for ten years, and that their deportation would inflict "exceptional and extremely unusual hardship" on a spouse, parent, or child who has a green card or U.S. citizenship.
  • Deferred Action. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is available to young noncitizens who qualify to be "DREAMers". It does not grant any legal status, but it provide a work permit and it does protect against deportation for two years, after which time this deferred action can be renewed for another two years.
  • Voluntary Departure. This involves an immigrant choosing to leave the U.S. so that they can legally return to the U.S. later.

Of course, having a skilled legal advocate on your side may help you to find the defense that could work in your case if you or a loved one face deportation proceedings. To learn more about these and others options in winning removal proceedings in immigration court, talk with an experienced immigration lawyer on our directory today!

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