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TRAC, Sept. 10, 2020
"The Life and Death of Administrative Closure
In August 2020, the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) proposed a new rule that would effectively eliminate administrative closure as a docket management tool for Immigration Judges. The EOIR justified this proposed rule by claiming that administrative closure has "exacerbated both the extent of the existing backlog of immigration court cases and the difficulty in addressing that backlog in a fair and timely manner." TRAC analyzed the EOIR's claims as well as the historical data on administrative closure from 1986 to present, and produced the following report. The case-by-case court records used in this report were obtained directly from the EOIR through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
TRAC's detailed analysis of the court records on administrative closure yields four key findings. First, administrative closure has been routinely used by Immigration Judges to manage their growing caseloads as well as manage the unresolved overlapping of jurisdictions between the EOIR and other immigration agencies. Second, TRAC finds that far from contributing to the backlog, administrative closure has helped reduce the backlog. Third, data from the Immigration Courts show that immigrants who obtain administrative closure are likely to have followed legal requirements and obtain lawful status. Fourth, the EOIR significantly misrepresented the data it used to justify this rule. Specifically, the agency claims to show low numbers of case completions during the Obama Administration and high numbers of case completions during the Trump Administration. In reality, the data behind this argument artificially eliminates cases that were administratively closed. Its argument also fails to recognize that average annual case completions per Immigration Judge have actually declined not increased during the past four years perhaps due to the changes introduced by this Administration. We elaborate on these findings below. ... "