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TRAC Releases New Asylum Data...With a Warning

September 18, 2020 (2 min read)

TRAC, Sept 16, 2020

"TRAC will begin once again releasing asylum data received from the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). After repeatedly uncovering issues in the quality of EOIR's data, the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a research data center at Syracuse University that studies the federal government, published its first report describing the problems it had uncovered. These included nearly a million filings by immigrants previously present in the court files TRAC received that had gone missing.

Then in June, there was a huge jump in records that suddenly disappeared from the case-by-case court records TRAC had received, this time involving asylum records. TRAC suspended updates to its "Immigration Court Asylum Decision" tool as the data was too flawed to use.

After raising concerns to Director McHenry and the EOIR, the agency found and restored the most egregious bulk of the records, but the underlying problem of smaller numbers of records disappearing each month remained. After monitoring EOIR's data for quality and completeness for several additional months, TRAC has determined that the bulk of the missing records that caused us to suspend our asylum data tool have now been restored and have not disappeared in subsequent releases. Given this, we are excited to announce that updated data will once again be shortly available through our Asylum Decisions tool.

However, we want to emphasize that this does not mean that the fundamental problems with the EOIR's asylum data or the agency's broader data management practices have all been resolved. Thousands of EOIR records on applications for relief are still missing and the number grows each month. Although the number is not significant enough relative to the large number of overall asylum applications to seriously undermine the usefulness of TRAC's asylum tool, this does mean that enduring issues of data quality remain a real concern.

We plan to post a running tally of asylum applications that have disappeared on the asylum tool itself to keep the public appraised of this problem. TRAC also remains troubled about the lack of apparent concern at EOIR headquarters over data management and the integrity of official court records.

To read a fuller discussion on what TRAC uncovered and how EOIR responded, go to:

For an index to the full list of TRAC's immigration tools and their latest update go to:

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