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Immigration Law

At What Rate Do Noncitizens Appear for Their Removal Hearings? Measuring In Absentia Removal Order Rates

CRS, Aug. 5, 2021

"Noncitizens who are charged by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)with immigration violations may have their cases adjudicated during immigration court removal proceedings. Immigration courts operate within the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). During proceedings, immigration judges (IJs) determine whether noncitizens (i.e.,respondents) are removable (deportable), and if so, whether they are eligible for protection or relief from removal, such as asylum. Removal proceedings may involve multiple hearings. Respondents who fail to appear for any of their hearings may be ordered removed in absentia(i.e., in the respondent’s absence) by an IJ. The rate at which respondents fail to appear for their hearings has been a key measure that some have cited to support policy positions and legal decisions related to mandatory detention, border security, and asylum. Yet the method for measuring the in absentia rate has been debated, and there is wide variation in the rates cited by elected officials and reported in the media. This In Focus explains the legal requirements for in absentia removal orders, how EOIR calculates in absentia rates, how to interpret those rates, and an alternative method for calculating in absentia rates that some argue measures the rate more comprehensively by accounting for a large and growing number of pending cases. It also presents data on in absentia removal orders for asylum seekers."