The Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) has recently released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 Statistical Year Book, summarizing the work of the EOIR for the past five years. The 129-page report was prepared by the EOIR’s Office of Planning, Analysis and Technology. The report predominately covers cases before immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) but also includes cases received and completed by the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO).
The report begins with a list of highlights for FY 2009. According to the report, receipts by the immigration courts increased by 11% between FY 2008 (when they were 351,477) and FY 2009 (when they were 391,829). Immigration court completions in FY 2009 (353,082) increased by 4% from FY 2008 (339,440). Decisions by immigration judges (IJs) were found to have increased by about 1.5% between FY 2008 (229,316) and FY 2009 (232,212) but were down 12% compared to the recent high in FY 2005 (264,785). Thirty-nine percent of all completed court proceedings involved legal representation in FY 2009, a 1% decrease from 40% of represented cases in FY 2008. Among immigration court case completions, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and China were the leading nationalities of the aliens in the immigration court completions.
The overall failure-to-appear rate fell to 11% of cases, a new five-year low, resulting in 25,330 in absentia orders being issued. The failure-to-appear rate for aliens who were once detained but subsequently released on bond or on their own recognizance decreased to 22% (23% in FY 2008), and the rate for those aliens who were never detained decreased to 27% (29% in FY 2008).
With respect to asylum statistics, the FY 2009 asylum filings at the immigration courts continued to decrease with a drop of 7,400 applications, with the decrease split nearly equally between affirmatively-filed and defensively-filed applications. Atlanta, Georgia; Los Angeles, California; Miami, Florida; New York City, New York; and San Francisco, California, received over half of all asylum filings in FY 2009.
While the rate at which asylum applications were granted increased slightly from 45% in FY 2008 to 47% in FY 2009, the actual number of grants decreased over the same time frame, with a total of 10,757 being granted in FY 2008 and only 10,186 in FY 2009. The five immigration courts that heard at least 100 cases and have the highest percentage of approved asylum cases are East Mesa, California (90%, 99 grants out of 110 cases), Arlington, Virginia (74%, 372/505), New York City, New York (73%, 4,076/5,608 grants), Honolulu, Hawaii (72%, 119/165), and San Diego, California (69%, 264/384 grants). The five immigration courts that heard at least 100 cases and have the lowest grant rates are Krome North SPC, Florida (8%, 221/249 denials), Eloy, Arizona (8%, 92/100 denials), Florence SPC, Arizona (11%, 93/104), Omaha, Nebraska (12%, 199/226) and Denver, Colorado (165/209). A table from the FY 2009 Statistical Year Book showing FY 2009 asylum grant rates listed by specific immigration court location is reproduced below.
There were a total of 25,665 cases filed under the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT or Convention Against Torture). Of those, 504 were granted some form of relief, 10,894 were denied, 5,583 were withdrawn, 1,340 were abandoned, and 7,344 resulted in some other type of action not listed.
Turning to the BIA, the number of cases filed with the BIA decreased slightly to 32,859 in FY 2009, down from 33,464 in FY 2008. Only 8% of the decisions made by IJs were appealed to the BIA in FY 2009.
At the end of FY 2009, there were 27,969 cases pending at the BIA, down slightly from FY 2008 in which 28,874 were pending at the end of the fiscal year.
Cases in which aliens are represented remained about the same, with 77% of completed cases, or 22,770, having some representation for the alien.