Immigration Law

Increasing Numbers "Remain in Mexico" Awaiting Immigration Court Hearings: TRAC

TRAC, Aug. 26, 2019

"Immigrants waiting for their Immigration Court hearings under the "Remain in Mexico" MPP protocols have been rapidly increasing in number. Case-by-case court records obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University show that during July a total of 11,804 immigrants were sent back to Mexico to await their MPP hearings. This is up from 5,161 during May and 5,883 in June. See Figure 1.

Figure 1. Growth in "Remain in Mexico" Immigration Court Locations
(Click for larger image)

Two new MPP hearing locations also were added in July. These two were at the Laredo, Texas, Port of Entry and at the Brownsville, Texas, Gateway International Bridge. The MPP hearing location in El Paso, Texas, continues to receive the largest numbers. See Table 1. However, combining numbers assigned through the San Ysidro and the Calexico ports, the San Diego court is still handling slightly more cases than the El Paso court. Altogether, as of the end of July the number of immigrants channeled into "Remain in Mexico" proceedings totaled 26,001.

Table 1. Growth in Remain in Mexico Immigration Court Cases by Month and Location
Month All El Paso San Ysidro Port Calexico Port Laredo Port of Entry Brownsville International Bridge
2019-01 15 0 15 0 0 0
2019-02 164 0 163 0 0 0
2019-03 339 71 240 27 1 0
2019-04 2,629 1,169 899 560 0 0
2019-05 5,161 2,189 1,615 1,355 0 0
2019-06 5,883 3,425 1,447 1,009 0 0
2019-07 11,804 3,768 1,634 1,838 3,114 1,450

MPP Cases and the Overall Court Backlog

Overall, the 26,001 cases assigned to the MPP program made up only a small part (2.7%) of the burgeoning Immigration Court's backlog. As of the end of July, cases waiting on the court's active docket reached 975,298.

The picture looks somewhat different, however, among recently added cases to the court's docket. During July, roughly one out of every four (22.3%) of the newly recorded cases have been assigned to the "Remain in Mexico" program. As shown in Table 2, among immigrants from Cuba, 43.6 percent have been diverted to wait in Mexico for their hearings, while the proportion was 33.3 percent for those from Honduras.

As expected, most of those diverted to the MPP program are from three Central American countries. Immigrants from Guatemala (9,354 cases) and Honduras (8,859 cases) made up the largest proportion of individuals and families channeled into MPP proceedings. In comparison, those from El Salvador (3,197), while still substantial, were somewhat fewer in number. In fourth place, were Cubans (2,804 cases).

Numbers drop after that. Those from Ecuador (761), Nicaragua (444), and Venezuela (430) comprised the next largest groups assigned to wait in Mexico for their hearings. Focusing just on those diverted to the MPP program during July, there were some compositional shifts. In July, the number from Honduras surpassed numbers from Guatemala. In addition, Cubans surpassed those from El Salvador. See Table 2.

Table 2. FY 2019 New Immigration Court Deportation Cases Recorded, by Nationality (through July)
Top 10 Nationalities New Cases for FY 2019 Latest Month: As of July vs As of June
All MPP Only Percent MPP
All 307,848 53,007 11,804 22.3%
Guatemala 77,788 14,611 3,211 22.0%
Honduras 60,077 12,927 4,304 33.3%
Mexico 53,209 6,029 22 0.4%
El Salvador 24,696 4,666 1,229 26.3%
Cuba 15,564 4,089 1,784 43.6%
Venezuela 11,399 1,918 382 19.9%
India 7,882 815 0 0.0%
Nicaragua 6,393 1,040 293 28.2%
China 6,197 645 0 0.0%
Ecuador 6,118 1,361 510 37.5%
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 or call 315-443-3563."