Report reveals roughly 200,000 migrant cases dismissed by immigration courts due to Biden admin's failure to file paperwork

 March 21, 2024

Many Americans suspect that the Biden administration's lax enforcement of border security and immigration laws is deliberate, and while there may be some truth to that, new information raises the possibility that simple incompetence may also be a factor.

It was recently revealed that around 200,000 deportation cases were summarily dismissed by federal immigration judges over the past few years due to the failure of administration officials to file the necessary paperwork in those cases, according to the Daily Wire.

Such errors -- whether deliberate or because of incompetence -- and the subsequent case dismissals generally result in the migrants, typically seeking to claim asylum, being free to remain in the country illegally without the worry of deportation, albeit also in a sort of "legal limbo" that prevents them from obtaining any sort of adjudication or federal benefits or work permits.

Surge in case dismissals due to lack of filed NTAs

The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, an academic group affiliated with Syracuse University, reported this week that "Approximately 200,000 deportation cases have been thrown out by Immigration Judges since the start of the Biden administration because the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) hadn’t filed the required Notice to Appear (NTA) with the Court by the time of the scheduled hearing."

TRAC noted that this raised "serious concerns," given that "Without a proper filing, the Court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case and the immigrants, often asylum seekers, lack a way to move their case forward."

Typically, when a migrant illegally enters the country and is apprehended and processed by immigration officials, they are given a Notice to Appear in a specific immigration court on a specific date for an asylum and/or deportation hearing, and that NTA is then also formally filed with the immigration court system for scheduling purposes on the docket.

At least, that is how it worked until 2021, shortly after President Joe Biden took office, when the total number and percentage of cases dismissals due to the lack of an NTA on file began to skyrocket, ultimately peaking in 2022 before declining the following year and now returning to closer to traditional levels, though still elevated above prior standards.

Indeed, around 1% of cases, roughly 500 or so, were dismissed per month in 2020, but that figure shot up to around 10%, or nearly 3,000 cases per month, in 2021. At the same time, illegal immigration overall was also surging, which resulted in 2022's dismissals equally nearly 7,000 cases per month, still around 10%, then dropping to approximately 6,000 dismissals per month in 2023 and, thus far in 2024, just over 2,000 per month, with the monthly percentage plummeting back down to just below 2%.

Failure to file NTAs have caused multiple problems

The TRAC report went on to point out that the dismissal numbers linked to a lack of NTAs on file varied significantly in the many immigration courts around the country, though the organization was unable to explain why that might be.

The group also highlighted the problems this issue posed for not just migrants seeking adjudication of their asylum claims, but also the immigration courts themselves, as the cases that end up dismissed contribute to the backlog of cases the limited number of immigration judges face and waste valuable time that could otherwise be spent actually adjudicating valid cases.

"This report provides an incomplete picture. Troubling is the almost total lack of transparency on where and why these DHS failures occurred," TRAC concluded. "Equally troubling is the lack of solid information on what happened to these many immigrants when DHS never rectified its failure by reissuing and filing new NTAs to restart their Court cases."

Immigration judges silenced by DOJ "gag order"

Perhaps coincidentally, this stunning report has emerged just about one week after the just as shocking revelation that President Biden's Justice Department had issued a "gag order" on immigration judges and the union that represents them -- one that prohibits them from speaking publicly about anything related to their jobs without first obtaining DOJ approval.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), likely due to his affinity for government employee whistleblowers, has sounded the alarm over the so-called "gag order" on immigration judges and, in addition to his concerns about their free speech being unconstitutionally stifled, has also noted that it inappropriately limits the ability of Congress to conduct effective oversight of the immigration court system.

It sure seems like the Biden administration has attempted to silence overworked immigration judges to prevent them from publicly exposing what is actually happening at the border and in immigration courts, and as Grassley stated in a recent letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, "If the allegations that the Justice Department has sought to silence immigration judges from communicating with and testifying before Congress are true and accurate, the Biden Justice Department’s conduct is absolutely unacceptable."

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