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Feds lose nearly half of cases to deport immigrants, analysis shows

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By The Associated Press
Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, 7:57 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Nearly half of immigrants facing deportation are winning their cases before an immigration judge, their highest success rate in more than 20 years, according to a new analysis of court data published on Thursday.

The government has been losing more deportation cases each year since 2009, according to the Transaction Records Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, which collects and studies federal prosecution records.

It does not say how many deportation cases Immigration and Customs Enforcement, whose lawyers represent the government in immigration courts, successfully appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals. The government can appeal immigration court rulings to the board, which is part of the Justice Department.

Since the start of the 2014 budget year in October, immigration judges ruled in favor of immigrants in about half of the 42,816 cases heard, TRAC reported. In 2013, the government won about 52 percent of cases.

Immigrants in California, New York and Oregon have been most successful recently, while judges in Georgia, Louisiana and Utah have sided more often with the government, according to TRAC.

Immigration supporters accuse the Obama administration of deporting too many people, but Republicans say the president is too lenient on immigrants living in the country illegally.

Nearly 2 million immigrants have been removed by ICE under President Obama.

The Homeland Security Department did not immediately comment on the figures. The federal government was shut down on Thursday because of a snowstorm that blanketed the Washington area and much of the East Coast.

In recent years the Obama administration has issued policy orders directing immigration authorities to exercise discretion when deciding which immigrants living in the country illegally should be deported. Then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said discretion should be used for immigrants who did not pose a threat to national security or public safety.

In 2011, the government reviewed hundreds of thousands of cases pending in immigration courts. The effort was designed to curtail the backlog of more than 300,000 pending cases. Tens of thousands of cases were eventually dismissed, but now more than 360,000 cases are pending, according to TRAC.

In 2012 Obama formed a program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, to allow tens of thousands of young immigrants living in the United States illegally to apply to stay in the country for up to two years and get a work permit.

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