Published Dec 6, 2022

The Immigration Court’s Dedicated Docket (DD) program was created by the Biden administration to speed the processing of families seeking asylum after arriving along the Southwest Border. Over 110,000 DD cases covering each individual in these families have now been assigned to this initiative. To determine how this program is working, this report follows this cohort of cases.[1] A total of nearly 40,000 of these cases have now been closed.

The goal set by the Biden Administration on May 28, 2021, when it announced this new initiative was to issue decisions in these cases within 300 days from their initial master calendar hearing. However, the Administration announced: “While the goal of this process is to decide cases expeditiously, fairness will not be compromised.”

Using detailed case-by-case Immigration Court records, this report is the first full-scale national assessment of whether the program has lived up to these goals. We found in brief:
  • Cases did in fact move expeditiously: 83% of closed cases were completed in less than 300 days from the date of the NTA. Cases without attorneys were closed faster than those with attorneys.
  • Only 34% found representation in closed cases, falling far short of announced objectives. [2]
  • Only 33% were able to file an asylum application in closed cases since the paperwork is difficult to complete without representation.
  • Only 7% were granted asylum since even with representation, and after filing asylum applications, families with expedited hearing schedules were much less likely to prevail and be granted asylum.

The end result of the Dedicated Docket’s winnowing process was that only 2,894 out of 39,187 closed cases for families assigned to the Dedicated Docket were granted asylum – just 7 percent. At each stage, as discussed in the following sections, expedited hearing processing substantially reduced the odds that families were able to have their asylum claims considered and asylum itself granted.