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I study America’s immigration enforcement system. Associate Professor at TRAC. Graduate of OSU Geography. Online at

Immigration and Customs Enforcement released new data which shows that the number of people in immigrant detention is above 27,000 on July 8, 2021. This is the highest since March 2020.

The growth in people in detention is being driven not by ICE’s interior enforcement activity (which remains at record lows), but by border enforcement which is done by Customs and Border Protection. You can see this in the figure below.

Here are a few other highlights from today’s new data:

After months of steady decline, the number of people held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention is on the rise. Since the beginning of May, the downward trend in immigrant detention numbers has turned around and headed upward again. On June 24, 2021*, the number of people held in detention reached 26,222, the highest since June of 2020 over a year ago.

Want a more academic take on immigration and border enforcement? Check out my recently published article on asylum seekers on the border available on SSRN by clicking here.

This sudden growth in detention is not due to…

Based on new data released today by us at the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, deportations show a significant decline during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On average, about 20,500 deportations took place each month during the five-year period between June 2015 and February 2020. But by June 2020, that number was less than 6,000.

This isn’t necessarily a surprise, since most government activities slowed down during the pandemic. But even if we know something is likely true in a general sense, there’s nothing like having the data to truly quantify your suspicions.

If you…

But if our recent findings are correct, MPP has already had its effect and most migrants will never get a chance to have their cases heard before a judge.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced today that it would begin reopening many of the cases of migrants whose asylum cases were rejected under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). MPP was a Trump-era program that forced asylum seekers to remain in dangerous parts of northern Mexico rather than processing their asylum cases in the United States.

We at TRAC have been tracking MPP data since the beginning of the program…

When we put out data at TRAC, we typically focus on providing a national snapshot of deportation cases. However, I wanted to experiment with providing data on a specific geography — in this case, New York — as a resource for journalists, researchers, and the public who often tell me they want information on cases a little closer to home.

For that reason, I created the following fact sheet on key data points on deportation cases in the State of New York prepare from our data at Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a research institute at Syracuse University. …

A new report that we just released today at TRAC shows that the number of immigrants whose cases transferred out of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) dropped sharply in May. 4,476 MPP cases had been allowed into the country in April 2021.

This fell to just 1,988 in May.

In total, 10,375 individuals forced to remain in Mexico under MPP have been allowed into the country between January and May. Still 16,138 MPP cases — or 60% of the total — have not been permitted to enter the country.

The slowing of the transfer pace during May was unexpected because…

We update our immigration court data every month in order to provide the public with important information about immigration. To improve accessibility to the data, a few months ago we created a new ‘Quick Facts’ tool that provides key data points as clearly as possible. These tools provide easy-to-access data points for journalists writing immigration stories.

We updated those key figures today. Data highlights include the following:

  • According to court records, only…

The United States has greatly expanded its deportation apparatus in the past 15 years primarily by enrolling local law enforcement agencies in federal immigration enforcement regimes. This means that routine interaction with law enforcement — often through traffic enforcement — has become one of the primary ways that immigrants are funneled into the deportation pipeline.

Immigration reporter Tanvi Misra (@Tanvim) discussed this issue in a very illustrative recent article “Another Consequence of Traffic Stops: Deportation” published for CityLaw at Bloomberg News.

Misra writes about Roland Sylvain, who was pulled over by police while driving through Hanover County, Virginia, on his…

On June 1, 2021, the Biden administration officially ended the Migrant Protection Protocols (aka ‘Remain in Mexico’) in a memo from Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

We at the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University have been at the forefront of providing regularly-updated data and analysis on MPP since the start of the program in January 2019.

Over 70,000 asylum-seekers were ultimately affected by MPP. The vast majority of migrants never had the opportunity for a full asylum hearing. Those who did have a court hearing often did not have access to an immigration attorney…

Over the past six months, the number of people following me and reading my articles on immigration news has exploded from about 10 to over 4,500. I wanted to take this moment to say “thank you” and to ask for feedback on what you like so far and what you would like to see me write about in the coming weeks and months.

When I started writing on Medium, I was motivated very simply by a desire to connect my scholarly research and perspective as a geographer at Syracuse University to a broader audience. …

Austin Kocher, PhD

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