A new analysis of data collected by the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the formal name of the Department of Justice unit that includes the immigration courts, evidences that removal proceedings based on criminal charges since September 11, 2011 constitute a small part of the government’s removal practice. TRAC, Immigration Enforcement Since 9/11: A Reality Check (Sept. 9, 2011). Crime-based removal under the Obama Administration, the report adds, has meandered down since hitting a high in March 2010.
Researchers at Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) combed through millions of records of removal proceedings (previously dubbed “deportation” proceedings) before and after September 11, 2001 to identify whether the events of that day affected the nature of immigration proceedings.
TRAC found that between fiscal year 2002 and fiscal year 2010, more than 2 million (2,279,305 to be exact) removal proceedings were initiated in immigration courts. Of these, the most serious immigration law violation charged was based on an underlying criminal offense in 345,543 instances (15.2% of the total). The vast majority of removal proceedings since 2001 have been premised on immigration law provisions (1,896,717 or 83.2% of the total).
Despite the Obama Administration’s stated emphasis on removing individuals with criminal convictions, TRAC’s analysis shows that crime-based removal during the current administration peaked in March 2010 when 4,100 removal proceedings were filed where the most serious charge involved criminal activity. TRAC, Obama Administration: U.S. Deportation Proceedings in Immigration Courts by Charge. The most recent month for which complete data are available, May 2011, show that the number is now down to 2,878.