The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) has been tracking about 40,000 expedited family cases “regardless of whether they reflect a priority designation” in order to ensure they are completed “without undue delay” at ten immigration courts in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York City, and San Francisco. Nearly 8,000 of those cases have already ended with removal orders. These are some of the migrants ICE agents could now target.
The administration has buttressed its push to detain more families by arguing that few of them show up for their immigration court hearings if they are released. At a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on June 11, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan said “family units” accounted for two-thirds of migrants processed at the Southwest border in May, and that 90 percent of families the EOIR was monitoring didn’t appear for court hearings. Several reports contradict this claim.
One case-by-case study of immigration court records showed “as of the end of May 2019 one or more removal hearings had already been held for nearly 47,000 newly arriving families seeking refuge in this country. Of these, almost six out of every seven families released from custody had shown up for their initial court hearing.”
The study further noted that “multiple hearings are [usually] required before a case is decided. For those who are represented, more than 99 percent had appeared at every hearing held.”