Longer Decision Times Seen in July 2011
Immigration Court Data

Figure 1. Immigration Court Overall Decision Times
Click for larger image.

Decision times in cases disposed of by Immigration Courts increased slightly during the first ten months of FY 2011 to an average of 304 days, according to very timely government enforcement data obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). The lengthening times have continued to grow - up 8 percent in the last ten months, and 30 percent higher than the average disposition speed during FY 2009 (see Figure 1).

Longest times were for those individuals granted relief from removal, where average times reached 714 days, up from 697 days during FY 2010. Shortest times were for removal orders which averaged 161 days, up from 141 days last year. These results are based upon TRAC's analysis of case-by-case records obtained from the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) under the Freedom of Information Act.

Full details - by state, nationality, Immigration Court and hearing locations - can be viewed in TRAC's court outcomes application, now updated with data through the end of July 2011.

Figure 2. TRAC's Immigration Court Processing Time Tool. (click to use the tool)

Lengthening decision times reflected the growing backlog of cases that continue to clog the Immigration Courts. See also TRAC's last backlog report as well as earlier TRAC outcomes report here and here tracking decision times.

Selected Highlights

Decision Times by State
Decision times during the first six months of FY 2011 were on average longest in Oregon with 555 days, up from 475 days last year. This was followed closely by New York with an average decision time of 545 days and California with 521 days. Massachusetts with 507 days and Maryland with 483 days came in fourth and fifth place, respectively.

If only decisions granting removal orders were considered, Oregon topped the list taking on average 522 days for removal orders, followed by Tennessee (422 days) and New York (408 days). Hawaii averaging 340 days came in fourth, followed by California with 321 days.

Decision Times by Nationality
Among nationalities, and limiting comparisons to the 50 countries with the most cases decided during the first ten months of FY 2011, Armenians currently had the longest decision times averaging 959 days - more than three times the national average of 302 days. Other nationalities within the top five for their overall average decision times were Indonesia (945 days), Albania (743 days), Guinea (711 days), and Bangladesh (701 days).

The top 50 nationalities with the most cases that had the fastest average decision times were: Mexico (167 days), Honduras (225 days), Cuba (226 days), Canada (260 days), and Guatemala (288 days).

Courts with Longest Decision Times.
During the first six months of FY 2011, the court with the longest overall decision time was Los Angeles, where cases averaged 734 days to decide. The New York court posted the second longest decision time of 646 days, followed by Philadelphia where cases averaged 601 days to decide. The Phoenix court was fourth (561 days) while the Portland court was fifth (555 days).

The same five courts had the longest average decision times for cases resulting in removal orders. However, their order was slightly different: New York (599 days), Los Angeles (529 days), Portland (522 days), Philadelphia (460 days), and Seattle (438 days).

Courts with Shortest Decision Times.
Currently the courts with the fastest average decision time were Lumpkin, Georgia (20 days), Oakdale, Louisiana (32 days), Tucson, Arizona (40 days), Houston-Detained (43 days), and Florence, Arizona (47 days). These locations dealt with individuals who were detained.

The courts that had the fastest average time for granting relief also involved detained populations. During the first half of FY 2011, the speediest average times for relief orders were: Miami-Krome (128 days), Tacoma, Washington (145 days), Los Fresnos, Texas (162 days), Houston - Detained, Texas (165 days), and Florence, Arizona (169 days).