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TRAC, July 29, 2022
"One out of every six new cases DHS initiates in Immigration Court are now being dismissed because CBP officials are not filing the actual “Notice to Appear” (NTA) with the Court. The latest case-by-case Court records obtained and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University through a series of Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests show a dramatic increase in these cases. See Figure 1. The number of case closures along with those dismissed because no NTA was filed are shown in Table 1.
Ten years ago this failure to file a NTA was rare. But as the onset in Table 1 shows, the frequency increased once Border Patrol agents were given the ability to use the Immigration Court’s Interactive Scheduling System (ISS). Using ISS, the agents can directly schedule the initial hearing (i.e. a master calendar hearing) at the Immigration Court. Supposedly, the actual NTA is created at the same time, and a copy given to the asylum seeker or other noncitizen with the scheduled hearing location and time they are to show up in Court noted on the NTA.
Thus, the process only requires that CBP actually follow up with the ministerial task of seeing that the Court also receives a copy of the NTA. With the implementation of the Court’s ECAS system of e-filing, this should have made the process quick and straightforward. That this is failing to be done suggests there is a serious disconnect between the CBP agents entering new cases and scheduling hearings through the Court’s ISS system, and other CBP personnel responsible for submitting a copy to the Court.
This is exceedingly wasteful of the Court’s time. It is also problematic for the immigrant (and possibly their attorney) if they show up at hearings only to have the case dismissed by the Immigration Judge because the case hasn’t actually been filed with the Court.
TRAC has sought, but has yet been unable to obtain, information on the specific Border Patrol units and locations where failure to file these NTAs is occurring. However, an analysis of all Court hearing locations finds that there are some Courts where the majority of all case completions are these dismissals for failing to file the NTA.
Leading the list in terms of the number of these NTA closures is the Dedicated Docket hearing location in Miami. Fully 7,700 out of the total of 9,492 case completions during FY 2022 — or 81 percent — were dismissals because the Court had not received the NTA.
While the situation for the Dedicated Docket in Miami was extreme, a number of Dedicated Docket locations have much higher dismissal rates than occur nationally where 1 out of 6 (17%) of case completions are closed for this reason. In Boston’s Dedicated Docket the rate of dismissal during the first 9 months of FY 2022 has been 62 percent, and in New York’s and Los Angeles’ Dedicated Dockets the rate is 32 percent – almost twice the national average.
But other Dedicated Docket locations have below average dismissal rates. These include San Francisco with 11 percent, New York’s separate Broadway DD hearing location with 15 percent, and Newark with 16 percent.  While It would appear that a policy which tries to accelerate the scheduling and hearing of cases puts additional pressure on DHS to promptly file, it isn’t an insurmountable burden. 
Further, some regular hearing locations have also been experiencing high dismissal rates because of DHS’s failure to file NTAs. These include Houston with 54 percent, Miami with 43 percent, and Chicago with 26 percent.
For a list of Immigration Court hearing locations with their individual dismissal rates because of DHS’s failure to file the NTA see Table 2.