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TRAC: Feds 'Flying Blind' on Asylum...And Blinding the Watchers

April 24, 2019 (1 min read)

TRAC, Apr. 23, 2019

"... It appears that the government itself does not actually know what happens to those it arrests at the border. It admits it lacks the ability to reliably follow cases when they pass from one agency of DHS to another - such as CBP to ICE and to USCIS - or to connect those cases when jurisdiction has been passed to the Department of Justice (DOJ) where the Immigration Courts are located. This appears to parallel the difficulties the government has had in reuniting children separated from their parents because separate record systems didn't pass along relevant information.

In many respects it appears that the Administration continues to be flying blind. Clearly, if agency officials don't have the data they need, they will be unable to effectively manage the situation, or even to accurately identify what additional personnel and other resources are most urgently needed. They also will be unable to effectively assess the impact of alternative policy choices that may be proposed.

In addition, the public is not being providing sufficient access to the data that is being recorded. A new barrier to public access arose just this month when the Department of Justice decided to review what information was released under the Freedom of Information Act. It stopped providing TRAC with particular case-by-case Immigration Court records tracking the processing of asylum and related applications for relief. Information both on historical as well as new asylum applications are now being withheld during this review. Other vital data TRAC had been routinely receiving and making publicly available on its website are also now being withheld.

As a direct result, TRAC is currently unable to update either its asylum web query tool, or its access tool on representation in Immigration Court by state and county. In addition, several of the fields in its tool that allows the public to drill into details on deportation proceedings, are no longer available."