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Immigration Law

TRAC on the "Dedicated Docket"

TRAC, Aug. 17, 2021

5,000 Immigrants Assigned to Biden Administration's New "Dedicated Docket" for Asylum Seeking Families

On May 28, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice announced that the two agencies would be implementing a new "Dedicated Docket" process for families arriving at the border who are placed in immigration proceedings[1]. The announced goal of the Dedicated Docket[2] was to speed the hearing and resolution of family cases. A decision target of 300 days after their initial master calendar hearing was set. According to the announcement: "Families may qualify if they are apprehended between ports of entry on or after Friday, May 28, 2021, placed in removal proceedings, and enrolled in Alternatives to Detention (ATD)."

According to the latest case-by-case court data, the Immigration Court has recorded placing 4,866 people comprising approximately 1,700 families onto their dedicated docket[3]. This compares with 108,102 individuals in family units that the Border Patrol reported apprehending between ports of entry along the southwest border during June and July this year[4]. Thus, only a relatively small number of families encountered by the Border Patrol—less than 5 percent—thus far are recorded as assigned to this program. Many questions exist about the criteria used by the Border Patrol to select which families are assigned to the Dedicated Docket. This report describes the pace that individuals have been assigned to this program, describes the characteristics of the initial group of families who have been assigned to this program, and outlines where their cases have been directed.