On April 4, 2012, I blogged about how certain Immigration Judges would be canceling court, so that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could review cases for administrative closure. Last week, the New York Times reported on the results so far of the efforts of ICE to exercise prosecutorial discretion by administratively closing cases. According to the article, 288,361 cases have been reviewed and only 4,403 cases have been administratively closed. That’s a rate of approximately 2%. The fact that such a low rate of cases has been administratively closed has been criticized by many organizations, including the American Immigration Lawyers Association. While this is very disappointing to immigration advocates, it also seems to be a tremendous waste of resources. The point of ICE reviewing files for administrative closure was to clear the Immigration Court’s overburdened docket. I was in in immigration court a few weeks ago and an Immigration Judge scheduled me for a hearing in 2014 because that was the earliest date the Immigration Judge had on her calendar. To shut the system down to review 288,361 cases and only administratively close 4,403 cases does not seem like it was worth the effort.
The article does not discuss deferred actions, but provides statistics about deferred actions. A deferred action is when an alien is subject to a final order of removal and requests not to be deported for humanitarian reasons. In 2010, there were only 486 grants of deferred actions or stays of removal. By comparison, 1,973 deferred actions were granted so far in fiscal year 2012. Unlike the administrative closure statistics, this dramatic increase in deferred actions is something to be optimistic about.