Via TRAC Reports:

TRAC recently discovered gross irregularities in recent data releases from the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the agency that oversees the US immigration court system. After attempting - unsuccessfully - to work with the EOIR to fix these problems, TRAC decided to make public our observations of the quality of the agency's public data releases as well as express our concerns about the lack of commitment within the agency to responsible data management.

Policymakers and the public routinely put their faith in federal agencies to provide complete and accurate information about their work. The value of government transparency is even higher in the area of immigration law and the Immigration Courts, which have become topics of considerable concern for Americans from all walks of life and for all three branches of government. In the present context, TRAC views concerns about EOIR's data inconsistencies - outlined below - as substantive, ongoing, and in need of prompt attention. Of greatest concern is the lack of commitment from EOIR to ensuring the public is provided with accurate and reliable data about the Court's operations. "Significant Errors" in Past EOIR Data

This is not the first time the public has identified significant inaccuracies in EOIR's reported data. For instance, the Supreme Court of the United States relied upon figures provided by the EOIR as the basis for a major ruling affecting ICE detention practices. After the Supreme Court decided the case, the public discovered that the figures provided by the EOIR were fundamentally wrong. The EOIR did not uncover the data irregularities on its own. The EOIR's mistakes were only recognized because the public obtained the underlying data through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and identified the relevant discrepancies.

After the public alerted the government to its inaccuracies, in 2016 the U.S. Solicitor General was compelled to issue a formal letter to the Supreme Court apologizing for providing inaccurate data. The following excerpt of the Solicitor General's letter on August 26, 2016 attests to this error:

"This letter is submitted in order to correct and clarify statements the government made in its submissions. ... EOIR made several significant errors in calculating those figures. ... This Court's opinion cites figures that 'EOIR ha[d] calculated,' ..., and those are, in fact, the figures EOIR had calculated, albeit incorrectly. ... The Court therefore may wish to amend its opinion..." (emphasis added)

This example illustrates the very real danger posed by the EOIR's mishandling of data, as well as the value to society - and the government itself - of ongoing oversight through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Despite the EOIR's past data mistakes, however, the quality of the agency's data releases has recently declined to unacceptable levels, as we discuss in the following section.