According to Immigration Court data obtained by TRAC, the total immigration court backlog is currently 1,337,372 pending cases. However, those cases are not distributed evenly across the country and representation rates — one of the most important factors in case outcomes — varies widely.
For the first time since February 2019, TRAC has been able to update its interactive map of immigration cases and rates of attorney representation, which allows the public to visualize the distribution of cases and representation rates across the country for cases pending at the end of May 2021. Records were obtained through requests made by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University under the Freedom of Information Act to the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the agency that oversees the Immigration Court system.
The total number of pending deportation cases varies from state to state. The residents of four states — California, Texas, New York, and Florida — have over 100,000 pending deportation cases each. New Jersey and Virginia each have over 50,000 pending cases, while another 19 states have between 10,000 and 50,000 cases. Several states — North Dakota, Wyoming, West Virginia, Hawaii, Vermont, Alaska, and Montana — have less than 1,000 pending cases.
Many of the states with large numbers of pending deportation cases also have high rates of deportation cases relative to their population. The following states are in the top 10 on both rankings: Texas, New York, Florida, New Jersey, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Maryland. However, on deportation cases per 100,000, Rhode Island, Washington D.C., and Nebraska move into the top 10, while California, Georgia, and North Carolina drop below the top 10. Nebraska is a particularly interesting state, the only state not located on a coast or on the U.S.-Mexico border in the top 10. Note that the top 10 states by rates of pending deportation cases are all over 500 per 100,000.
Access to an attorney is one of the most important factors in case outcomes. New York and California, which both have among the very highest number of pending deportation cases also have very high rates of representation relative to other states in the country at 79 percent and 77 percent respectively. Just 48 percent of cases in Florida and 46 percent of cases in Texas have representation — less than half for two of the states with the most total cases. Georgia is even lower with just 39 percent representation. North Carolina and South Carolina are at the bottom of the list, each with less than 1 in 4 cases showing attorney representation. Notably, North Carolina is 10th overall in the country for total pending deportation cases, but last for representation. According to Immigration Court data through May 2021, North Carolina includes 26,701 deportation cases without attorney representation.
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