Nearly half of immigrants facing deportation are now 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 Thursday.
The U.S. 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 of Immigration Appeals, 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 Immigration and Customs Enforcement under President Barack Obama.
“ICE’s enforcement strategies and policies are designed to prioritize its resources on public safety, national security and border security threats,” said ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen. “ICE continues to focus on sensible, effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes the removal of criminal aliens and those apprehended at the border while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States.”