200K Deportation Cases Dismissed for Late Paperwork

Razor wire fence near the Rio Grande River | Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Roughly 200,000 migrants have had their deportation cases dismissed since 2020 after the Department of Homeland Security failed to file the required documents.

A new report from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University found that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) failed to submit “Notice to Appear” (NTA) papers for a massive number of deportation cases.

Deportation cases begin when DHS issues an NTA that presents allegations about why the non-citizen can and should be deported to their home country. However, a failure to file this paperwork with the immigration court means the case must be dismissed since the court would have no jurisdiction.

Over 41 months from the start of FY2021 to the end of February 2024, 9% of all deportation cases were dropped. FY2021 saw the greatest share of cases dismissed, at 10.6%.

According to the TRAC study, the largest number of dismissals occurred during FY2022, when the courts were forced to drop 79,592 cases due to DHS’s failure to submit NTA papers.

The total number of dismissals remained high during FY2023 at 68,869, but the proportion of dismissals dropped to 4.8% for the year.

A concerning trend has emerged since 2020 in the lack of NTAs reissued to migrants once the initial cases were dropped, as “DHS Only Rectifies Dismissals for One in Four Immigrants,” the TRAC report noted.

Additionally, there have been 1,913 cases in which DHS failed to submit the paperwork on time more than once, meaning that the agency had to reissue paperwork three or more times in certain instances.

These deportation dismissals have been occurring as the U.S. continues to deal with a crisis along the southern border due to a vast number of unlawful crossings.

Since Biden took office in 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has reported more than 7.5 million encounters with unlawful migrants along the border the country shares with Mexico. Similarly, the House Homeland Security Committee has reported that an estimated 1.7 million “got-aways” — meaning people who unlawfully crossed the border but avoided being detained by CBP — have crossed the border during the same period.

Although a previous bipartisan national security supplemental package would have allocated funds for border security measures to help manage the crisis, House Republicans prevented the bill from passing due to concerns about the large number of unlawful crossings permitted under the legislation and the significant allocation of funds it allocated to assist foreign countries.

The bill would have allowed 5,000 migrants to unlawfully enter the U.S. before a shutdown of the border was triggered, meaning an estimated 1.8 million people would be allowed to cross each year, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

Additionally, the package would have provided more than $80 billion to foreign countries while allocating just $20.23 billion to “address existing operational needs and expand capabilities at our nation’s borders, resource the new border policies included in the package, and help stop the flow of fentanyl and other narcotics.”

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