ICE Prosecutorial Discretion by Location
As of May 31, 2012

As of May 31, 2012 a total of 4,585 cases were closed under a special Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program announced last August. The program aims to reduce the massive backlog of pending matters in the Immigration Courts by identifying those that could be dismissed or put on hold through the exercise of prosecutorial discretion (PD). The number of PD closures was up from 2,609 closed as of the end of March, but still amounted to only 1.5 percent of the 298,173 cases pending before the Immigration Courts as of the end of last September.

The Los Angeles Immigration Court now leads the country with the largest number of closures under this program — 534. The Denver Immigration Court was second with 401, while the San Francisco Immigration Court was third with 387.

These and other results — by court and hearing location — are based upon analyses of very recent case-by-case records[1] obtained from the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. EOIR, a part of the Department of Justice, administers the nation's special administrative court system charged with deciding whether noncitizens can be deported or are legally entitled to remain in this country.

On June 6, in a New York Times article by reporter Julia Preston, ICE acknowledged that the closures as of May 29 were 4,403 or just under the number that these court records as of May 31 show. However, ICE did not provide any breakdowns by location for these closures. TRAC's Immigration Court Closures Tool provides a detailed look at the cases for each court and hearing location. The tool also provides prosecutorial discretion closures by type, as well as compared with each court's pending caseload.

Figure 1. Sample from TRAC's Immigration Court Closures Tool (click to use the tool).

[1] This exact count by TRAC of cases closed through ICE's prosecutorial discretion initiative was determined by using special codes in the court data that TRAC received. These codes tagged those closures made under the new program as of May 31. Note: In the latest court records that TRAC received on June 15, the closure status of some cases originally recorded closed as 'terminations' were updated to 'administrative closures.'