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Majority of migrant families do show up for court hearings, analysis finds

(Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)

Migrant families are showing up to their immigration court hearings despite claims that the vast majority of them are skipping out.

Immigration court data analyzed by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, also known as TRAC, shows that from September 2018 to May 2019, one or more removal hearings had already been held for nearly 47,000 families who recently arrived in the United States seeking refuge.

Of these families, 85.5% of migrant families released from custody nationwide had shown up for their initial court hearing and 80.9% had attended all of their hearings so far.

“These families are attending their hearings by and large,” said Susan Long, co-director of TRAC.

The rate is even higher for families going through the Phoenix immigration court.

“There are 90.5% of all families that appear at their initial hearing, and it’s almost 100% if they have an attorney,” Long said.

She added attorneys help families stay on top of when and where hearings are scheduled. She said this is important given that there’s no legal requirement that families actually receive notifications of their hearings.

“As a result, sometimes they simply don’t know they have a hearing,” Long said.

“So just the fact they don’t show up doesn’t mean that they intended not to show up.”

The immigration court data refutes comments made by Kevin McAleenan, acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, during a congressional hearing in June.

McAleenan said a recent sample of asylum-seeking families who crossed the border found that 90% did not show up to their court hearing.

Long said the families in the recent immigration court data “are the family units that the government officials were talking about not showing up.”

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