Executive Office for Immigration Review Set to Launch Electronic Filing System

The Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), which is responsible for overseeing immigration courts and deciding immigration cases in the United States, will be launching a cloud-based e-filing platform next year.  This is expected to aid in reduction of the massive current backlog of cases.

Since last October, EOIR had 640,000 active pending cases.  This was more than twice the number of pending cases in 2012 and triple that of 2009.

The acting director of EOIR, James McHenry, said in testimony before the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security that EOIR has made “little appreciable progress” in transitioning from the paper filing system to the electronic filing sphere since 2001, which is when the need for an electronic filing system was first recognized.

Now, McHenry says, “With the support of Congress and [DOJ], however, we are poised to finally pilot an electronic case filing and adjudication system in fiscal 2018.”

The move towards electronic filing will also include “electronic records of proceeding and judicial applications that aid immigration judges and the immigration court staff.”

EOIR has planned to implement an electronic filing system before, crafting eWorld which was supposed to be launched in 2006.  Government Accountability Office auditors said, “It is unclear…why EOIR did not fully carry out these efforts.”

The planning of e-filing mechanisms was in the authority of the EOIR’s Office of Planning, Analysis, and Technology, which has since been dissolved.  EOIR’s Office of Information Technology has now adopted the role and is overseeing the new e-filing system development.

According to the Government Accountability Office, EOIR created a statement of work for a comprehensive e-filing system last April.  The e-system will be called ECAS, the EOIR Courts and Appeals System.

ECAS is still “in the early phases” and will not be fully implemented for “several years,” but the first phase will be launched in 2018.

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