Docket review pulls curtain back on procedure by Homeland Security
By SUSAN CARROLL
Oct. 17, 2010, 10:21AM
In the month after Homeland Security officials started a review of Houston's immigration court docket, immigration judges dismissed more than 200 cases, an increase of more than 700 percent from the prior month, new data shows.
The number of dismissals in Houston courts reached 217 in August — up from just 27 in July, according to data from the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which administers the nation's immigration court system.
In September, judges dismissed 174 pending cases — the vast majority involving immigrants who already were out on bond and had cases pending on Houston's crowded downtown court docket, where hearings are now being scheduled into 2012.
Roughly 45 percent of the 350 cases decided in that court in September resulted in dismissals, the records show.
The EOIR data offer the first glimpse into Homeland Security's largely secretive review of pending cases on the local immigration court docket.
In early August, federal attorneys in Houston started filing unsolicited motions to dismiss cases involving suspected illegal immigrants who have lived in the country for years without committing serious crimes.