Amid Biden border crisis, immigration court no-shows skyrocket

Recent data from the Department of Justice (DOJ) indicates a dramatic increase in the number of noncitizens failing to appear for their immigration court hearings. This trend is on track to surpass 170,000 in fiscal year (FY) 2024, eclipsing last year’s record of nearly 160,000. Andrew R. Arthur of the Center for Immigration Studies highlights that many of these individuals may be subject to removal orders, yet the Biden administration shows little intention of enforcing these actions.

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), immigration judges (IJs) oversee removal proceedings, determine noncitizens’ removability, and issue removal orders. These proceedings depend on respondents attending their hearings. However, despite the requirement that noncitizens appear in court or face removal in absentia, enforcement by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has significantly waned.

The impact of these no-shows is particularly pronounced in New Mexico. The state has seen a marked increase in absentia orders of removal, mirroring the national trend. From October to December 2023 alone, immigration judges issued 42,714 absentia orders nationwide, suggesting a potential total of around 170,000 by the end of the fiscal year. This represents a staggering increase compared to previous years, with 25,909 such orders in FY 2014 and 38,260 in FY 2015.

Arthur attributes the surge in no-shows to a broader decline in DHS removals. DHS’s Office of Homeland Security Statistics (OHSS) reported just over 179,400 removals in FY 2023 despite encountering more than 3.2 million noncitizens at borders and ports. This number pales in comparison to removals during the Obama administration, which peaked at nearly 405,000 in FY 2014 and exceeded 347,000 in FY 2019.

One major factor in the decline is the policy direction DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas set. In a September 2021 memo, Mayorkas outlined a more selective approach to enforcement, focusing on national security threats, serious criminals, and recent border crossers. This has led to fewer enforcement actions against noncitizens ordered removed in absentia, even though these individuals received due process.

Arthur suggests that the administration’s overall stance has signaled to noncitizens that immigration law enforcement is lax. From the early 2021 announcement pausing alien removals for 100 days to the current non-detention policies, the message appears to be one of minimal enforcement.

In New Mexico and beyond, this approach has created a situation where many noncitizens feel emboldened to disregard court orders without fear of repercussions. “If the White House doesn’t care, why would the aliens?” Arthur posits, reflecting on the broader implications of the administration’s policies.

As a result, the immigration enforcement process has been likened to “kabuki theater” — a performance with little substance. Despite the significant resources allocated for enforcement, the actual follow-through remains inadequate, leaving taxpayers footing the bill for a system that fails to deliver on its intended promises.


5 thoughts on “Amid Biden border crisis, immigration court no-shows skyrocket”

  1. Just one of many examples of the obiden administration turning the U.S. into another shit-hole, 3rd-world country.

  2. Clare A May, retired

    When contempt is shown after giving generosity… Can you wonder what kind of person we have permitted to fester?

    Im asking, because there is an end game…and…the end game is exactly what?

  3. Why should we be surprised about the no shows when one of New Mexico’s legislators in Washington, DC , namely Vasquez doesn’t appear for court so a warrant is issued for his arrest.

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