ICE: 87% of Unaccompanied Illegal Minors Summoned to Court Still Have No Final Deportation Orders

By Melanie Arter | June 25, 2014 | 4:09 PM EDT

A Border Patrol agent stands on a ranch fence line with children taken into custody in South Texas brush country north of Laredo, Texas, Tuesday, June 6, 2006. (AP Photo)

( – A top Immigration and Customs Enforcement official told the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that 87 percent of unaccompanied illegal minors who enter the U.S. and are given notices to appear before an immigration judge still have no final orders.

“When we looked at all the unaccompanied alien children that were, NTAs (notice to appear) were filed with the immigration court in the last five years, 87 percent of them are still in proceedings. We have no final orders,” Thomas Homan, executive associate director for ICE, enforcement and removal operations, testified.

As reported, more than 50,000 unaccompanied illegal minors have crossed the border since January with a projection of 60,000 to 90,000 by the end of the year. According to Customs and Border Protection numbers, there has been a 99 percent uptick in the number of illegal alien minors crossing the southwest border from fiscal year 2013 to 2014.

Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) asked Homan if it was true that ICE has only been able to remove less than 2,000 unaccompanied illegal minors each year since 2011 when the surge of illegal alien children crossing the border began.

“Yes. Last year, we removed 1,800,” Homan said.

Goodlatte referenced a NY Times report that said illegals wait years to appear before an immigration judge – if they show up at all – and those that do are allowed to drag out the process even more years through procedural maneuvers. By the time a removal order is issued, they are not considered a priority because of the administration’s stance on enforcement and may never “actually be removed,” he added.

“Part of the White House’s mantra on this matter is that everyone is being put into removal proceedings. Yet, as reported by the NY Times this weekend, that doesn’t really mean much when some will wait years for their first court date,” Goodlatte said.

“Then there will be procedural moving and posturing that will last years even if the aliens show up for their court dates – which many will not. By the time a removal order is issued, won’t these individuals be so low on the totem pole for removal that ICE’s state priority is … that they’ll never actually be removed. Is that the case?” he asked Homan.

“I can say that every unaccompanied child and every family unit member are served with NTAs and scheduled to be put in front of an immigration judge, so that they have their proceedings scheduled, but it’s years out. There’s a lack of immigration judges, so some of these hearings take years. It can take two years. It can take five years,” Homan said.