Illegal Immigrants Present Significant Flight Risks

76% of those free pending trial evaded immigration court

Apr 23, 2014, 06:45 ET from Center for Immigration Studies

WASHINGTON, April 23, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Public safety is threatened by a justice system and enforcement agencies that tolerate, if not encourage, court evasion by those in the country illegally. A new Center for Immigration Studies backgrounder finds that many of the illegal immigrants allowed to remain free pending trial never appear in court. In fact, many flee when released from detention. A case now working its way to the U.S. Supreme Court will focus attention on these flight risks and on a measure, approved by Arizona voters, that mandates accused felons in the U.S. illegally be held in detention until their trials are finished.

Immigration Court records show that from 1996 through 2012, 76 percent of the 1.1 million persons free pending trial were ordered removed for evading court. Few have ever been re-arrested. Court evasion is the chief reason for the presence of more than 870,000 aliens who have been ordered removed, but still remain in the United States. In contrast, during the same period, 96 percent of removal orders against aliens kept in detention pending trial were actually carried out.

The extent of the problem has been rarely examined from a policy standpoint. Courts have hidden the extraordinarily high failure-to-appear rates by aliens free pending trial by combining their numbers with aliens held in detention pending trial. Combining these two figures has presented a misleading image in the court's reports to Congress. As a result, neither Congress nor the American public were aware that in the five years following 9/11, 50.4 percent of all aliens free pending trial never came to court.

View the entire report, "Justice on the Run", at:

"Court evasion and non-enforcement of deportation orders are two of the most troubling problems our immigration court system faces," said Mark H. Metcalf, the report's author and a former judge on the Miami immigration court. "Court evasion diminishes public confidence in our immigration system as a whole and all too often American families – citizen and immigrant alike – suffer from crimes committed by those who should never have been released from detention. Multiple murders in recent years demonstrate the consequences of unenforced removal orders and failures to detain offenders who have been ordered removed from the United States."

The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit research organization founded in 1985. It is the nation's only think tank devoted exclusively to research and policy analysis of the economic, social, demographic, fiscal, and other impacts of immigration on the United States.

Contact: Marguerite Telford,, 202-466-8185

SOURCE Center for Immigration Studies