Courts Order Fewer Deportations, Report Says

Immigration judges ordered fewer people to leave the United States in the first quarter of this year than it did in the last quarter of 2011, according to a recent report by Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

Immigration court judges ordered nearly 40,000 people deported or told them they had to leave voluntarily between October and December of last year. From January to March of this year, that number dropped to just under 35,000. The majority of those were ordered deported, according to the report. That number, though, was also down.

In the fourth quarter of last year, almost 27,500 people were ordered deported. In the first quarter of this year, nearly 26,000 were. Almost 7,500 others were told that they had to leave in the last quarter of 2011. Less than 6,500 were told the same in the first quarter of this year.

Last August, the White House asked the Homeland Security and Justice departments to prioritize which immigration cases to prosecute. They were to focus on people who had been convicted of a crime, rather than going forward with deportation proceedings against those living in the country illegally but who pose little threat to public or national safety--a category that includes illegal immigrants brought to the country as children and the spouses of active military personnel.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement attorneys have been reviewing cases to determine which ones to pursue, according to the clearinghouse, which studies federal court records, including those of immigration courts.

"A consequent drop in overall case dispositions has occurred while these reviews were being carried out," the report said.