U.S. Immigration Courts Completed
7.3 Percent More Cases in FY 2015

Immigration Court judges were able to complete almost 200,000 cases last year, up 7.3 percent from the year before, according to the latest available case-by-case court records, current as of the close of fiscal year 2015. Preliminary figures indicate a total of 198,105 case completions for FY 2015 (from October 2014 through September 2015) as compared with 184,597 for FY 2014. Because the total only includes information as of September 30, this number may rise once any delayed recordings of case outcomes become available.

This marks the first time in six years that Immigration Court closings have risen rather than fallen, halting the downward slide in case completions that had been observed since FY 2009 (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Immigration Court Completed Cases FY 1998 - 2015
Go to Immigration Court Processing Time tool for details

Case Closings by Nationality

While cases involving individuals from Mexico still comprise the single largest component of the Immigration Court caseload, their numbers as reflected in court closings fell by almost ten percent (down 9.8%) last year. As shown in Figure 2, the annual number of completed court cases involving individuals from Mexico has been steadily declining since FY 2009. During the past six years, this number has fallen from 114,888 during FY 2009 down to 62,901 in FY 2015 — a drop of 45.3 percent.

Figure 2. Immigration Court Completed Cases FY 1998 - 2015, Nationality = Mexico
Table 1. Nationalities With Greatest Number
of Immigration Court Case Closings*
Nationality FY 2014 FY 2015 Percent
All Nationalities 184,597 198,105 7.3%
Mexico 69,715 62,901 -9.8%
Guatemala 19,854 28,601 44.1%
Honduras 17,960 28,330 57.7%
El Salvador 20,820 28,134 35.1%
China 8,542 8,948 4.8%
*Figures for other nationalities are available via TRAC's Immigration Court Processing Time tool.

In contrast, closings involving individuals from three Central American countries have surged. Case completions from Honduras jumped 57.7 percent, those from Guatemala increased by 44.1 percent, and cases from El Salvador rose by 35.1 percent.

China was in fifth place in terms of the number of case closings; this nationality group exhibited a more modest growth rate, with closings increasing by 4.8 percent.

Table 1 provides the number of case closings involving these five countries for FY 2015 versus FY 2014. Taken together, these five countries accounted for roughly four out of every five cases handled by the Immigration Courts last year.

Table 2. States With Greatest Number
of Immigration Court Case Closings*
State FY 2014 FY 2015 Percent
Entire U.S. 184,597 198,105 7.3%
California 32,649 37,333 14.3%
Texas 33,268 35,330 6.2%
New York 19,455 20,358 4.6%
Florida 16,245 16,639 2.4%
Georgia 8,466 10,647 25.8%
Arizona 9,016 8,733 -3.1%
Louisiana 4,138 6,178 49.3%
Illinois 6,755 6,150 -9.0%
Virginia 4,981 5,868 17.8%
North Carolina 5,318 5,280 -0.7%
*Figures for other states are available via TRAC's Immigration Court Processing Time tool.

Case Closings by State

The Immigration Courts based in California led the country in closing the largest number of cases during FY 2015. Judges in those courts completed 14.3 percent more cases last year than during FY 2014 — double the national increase. The growth in their volume allowed them to surpass Immigration Courts in Texas, which had handled the most cases during FY 2014.

Listed in Table 2 are the ten states with the greatest number of closings during FY 2015. Among these top ten, a record increase occurred in the Immigration Courts in Louisiana, where closings jumped by nearly half (49.3%). The next largest growth rate of 25.8 percent occurred in the Georgia courts, followed by an increase of 17.8 percent in the Virginia court.

Further Details

For additional details on Immigration Court closings from FY 1998 through the end of September 2015, see TRAC's interactive Immigration Court Processing Time by Charge tool. Information is available on case closings and processing times by state, Immigration Court, hearing location, nationality and charge.

Many of TRAC's other free query tools have also been updated through September 2015. For an index to the full list of TRAC's immigration tools go to http://trac.syr.edu/imm/tools/.

TRAC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit data research center affiliated with the Newhouse School of Public Communications and the Whitman School of Management, both at Syracuse University. For more information, to subscribe, or to donate, contact trac@syr.edu or call 315-443-3563.