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REPORT: Thousands of Migrant Cases Dismissed After Officials Failed to File Them on Time

The study found 63,586 immigrant cases were dismissed at the end of the Fiscal Year 2022 because officials did not file the Notice to Appear in time.
Corte de inmigración | Mehaniq
Corte de inmigración | Mehaniq

The cases of thousands of undocumented migrants waiting to be processed in the U.S. were thrown out by immigration judges after Department of Homeland Security officials filed to submit them on time, according to new data. 

According to the data obtained and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, 63,586 immigrant cases were dismissed at the end of the Fiscal Year 2022 because officials did not file the Notice to Appear (NTA) in time. 

In many cases, migrants who are intercepted at the border are released into the country with an NTA, which specifies a court date and location to appear for their immigration hearings. Usually, NTAs are submitted to immigration courts by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 

However, with the unprecedented number of border crossings in the last year, the number of NTAs given to migrants at the border has also increased. 

The additional number of NTAs handed out placed an administrative burden on the agency, which resorted to using a scheduling system that directly scheduled a hearing in court before handing out the NTA to the court system.

"The issue is if you schedule a hearing three months out, and it takes longer than three months to actually file that NTA on the courts … then that immigrant is going to show up in court, and the judge isn't going to really have any record of that case. So essentially nothing can happen," said TRAC research assistant professor Austin Kocher. 

TRAC found that the number of NTAs filed that were dismissed increased from 1,000 in February and March 2021 to more than 5,000 in late 2021 and 2022. By April 2022, 7,200 cases were dismissed. 

According to the research center, the amount of cases being thrown out not only wastes the court’s time, but can also affect the immigration status of the migrants involved or prolong their cases.  

"It's not as if it's entirely unprecedented, they have had issues in the past," he said. "It is unusual at the scale that this is happening and the regularity in which it's happening right now," added Kocher. 

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