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TRAC – DOJ Inspector General Overly Critical of EOIR Statistics

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC): “The Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Justice Department has just released a report criticizing the statistics of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). Lost in the news coverage of the OIG’s report are several important points:

  • First, in criticizing the EOIR numbers, the OIG’s report doesn’t acknowledge that there is already a source for the very statistics it recommends EOIR develop: TRAC’s public website. TRAC compiles these statistics each month using EOIR’s official case-by-case records.
  • Second, the OIG does not credit EOIR for the very important role the agency has played in the development of these TRAC statistics. We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the cooperation we have received from EOIR, which has been truly exceptional in expediting the release of its case-by-case data to TRAC each month under the Freedom of Information Act. Other federal agencies would do well to emulate EOIR’s commitment to providing greater public transparency.
  • Third, the OIG report doesn’t acknowledge that the approach taken by EOIR in reporting its workload statistics isn’t at all unusual. The same approach criticized by the OIG is used by the federal courts in their annual statistical reports, and by other Justice Department components including the Executive Office for United States Attorneys. When cases are transferred from one court to another, or one U.S. Attorney’s office to another, the case is counted as a closing in one, and a new filing or receipt in the other. And while the widespread use of this method by other well-respected bodies does not mean that the OIG’s criticism is without merit, it does place the issue into a broader context. When measuring “workload” there are equally valid reasons to support the approach used by EOIR and other organizations. Though TRAC long ago adopted the method OIG now recommends, there simply isn’t just one “best” method.”

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