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Unaccompanied Juveniles in INS Custody
Report Number I-2001-009
September 28, 2001


Data Analysis Methodology

We reviewed available INS data on apprehended juveniles and received data from an Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) database. The INS databases and data sources include the Juvenile Alien Management System (JAMS) and the Deportable Alien Control System (DACS) that contain specific case tracking information about the juveniles in INS custody; the Humanitarian Affairs Branch (HAB) database on juveniles in custody referred for home assessments; the Record of Intercepted Passenger System (RIPS) data on juveniles intercepted at primarily air ports of entry; and the G-23 data compiled by the Border Patrol and investigators on the numbers of juveniles apprehended. The EOIR Automated Nationwide System for Immigration Review (ANSIR) database provided data on juvenile cases tracked. The methodologies for various analyses are also discussed.

Data on Juveniles in Custody of Juvenile Program

The JAMS is the INS unaccompanied juvenile custody tracking database created in response to the records reporting requirement in the Flores agreement:

An INS Juvenile Coordinator in the Office of the Assistant Commissioner for Detention and Deportation shall maintain an up-to-date record of all minors who are placed in proceedings and remain in INS custody for longer than 72 hours. Statistical information on such minors shall be collected weekly from all INS district offices and Border Patrol stations. Statistical information will include at least the following: (1) biographical information such as each minor's name, date of birth, and country of birth, (2) date placed in INS custody, (3) each date placed, removed or released, (4) to whom and where placed, transferred, removed or released, (5) immigration status, and (6) hearing dates. The INS, through the Juvenile Coordinator, shall also collect information regarding the reasons for every placement of a minor in a detention facility or medium secure facility.

The JAMS database tracks custody instances. Whenever an unaccompanied juvenile is booked into a facility (for the first time, or for any successive transfers), an instance is recorded.

In some cases, we were interested in individuals rather than instances. To determine the number of individuals in custody for a given year, we screened the JAMS data by unique A-number. We removed those juveniles that were in custody for less than 72 hours. We also identified 23 juveniles who came into INS custody more than once in FY 2000.

The JAMS database is a stand-alone system operated by the district juvenile coordinators that can be monitored by the regional juvenile coordinators and headquarters. Each juvenile coordinator provides INS headquarters with a weekly update on the unaccompanied juveniles in the district's custody. INS headquarters compiles the data in a central database.

One limitation of JAMS is that it is a stand-alone system for each district. This makes collection and consolidation of the data at the national level cumbersome. Another limitation is that local INS districts are able to access only their current week's information. They do not have access to historical data or nation-wide data. The regional juvenile coordinators are able to access the JAMS data only for their region.

At this time, the INS is making improvements to JAMS. The INS anticipates the changes will be implemented in FY 2001. The INS also plans to centralize the JAMS database, allowing for much easier data entry and review by juvenile coordinators and managers at all levels.

Humanitarian Affairs Branch Data

HAB provided data on 768 juveniles who were referred for home assessments between September 15, 1998 and November 22, 2000. Of these, 544 juveniles had completed home assessments. We reviewed the 280 juveniles included in the JAMS database for FY 2000.

By adding the apprehension date from JAMS for these individuals to the HAB database, we were able to calculate the duration of various phases of the home assessment process.

Record of Intercepted Passenger System (RIPS)

The Record of Intercepted Passenger System (RIPS) is an INS Inspections Division database that tracks aliens detained at the ports of entry. We reviewed the Inspections Service RIPS data for FYs 1998 and 1999. The RIPS data is entered in a stand-alone system at each port of entry. The data includes information on adults as well as juveniles. The information in RIPS includes the country of origin, the port of entry, the travel agency, as well as a variety of biographical data, including age and country of birth.

Demographics of the FY 1999 RIPS Juvenile Population:

Juveniles Encountered (Both Accompanied and Unaccompanied): 1,902
Median age:
Mean age:

Country of Birth:

These top five countries of birth represent 46.8 percent of the encounters.

Apprehension Locations:
Miami Airport
John F. Kennedy Airport
Los Angeles Airport
Newark Airport
Houston Airport
  (225 Cuba, 77 Haiti, 40 Colombia)
(53 China, 27 Jamaica, 23 Ecuador)
(76 China, 25 Mexico, 8 South Korea)
(19 Ecuador, 14 Brazil, 14 Colombia)
(43 Mexico, 13 Ecuador, 12 Guatemala)

These top five ports represent 69.2 percent of the encounters.

According to the RIPS database, inspectors encountered 1,902 juvenile aliens in FY 1999, both accompanied and unaccompanied. RIPS does not distinguish juveniles from adults, but does track the age of the aliens encountered. We determined the number of juveniles encountered by selecting those individuals who were less than 18 years old at time of apprehension. Of 30,409 entries in the database, 1,445 individuals had no known true date of birth and were excluded from the population.

G-23 Report of Deportable Aliens

The G-23 reports are prepared by INS Investigations and the Border Patrol on deportable aliens encountered. Their data does not track juveniles under age 18 as we have defined them. Rather, the G-23 data collects information on "minors" under the age of 15, both accompanied and unaccompanied. According to this data, INS Investigations and the Border Patrol encountered 68,706 minors in FY 1998, 60,390 minors in FY 1999, and 58,596 in FY 2000. The overwhelming majority come from Mexico: 63,924 in FY 1998, 55,013 in FY 1999, and 54,388 in FY 2000. It is important to note the very large number of juveniles encountered by the INS who are not taken into custody for longer than 72 hours. The vast majority of juveniles are returned within hours after speaking to a parent or consular officer from their home country.

When compared with the JAMS information, the size of the population comes into perspective. In FY 2000, according to JAMS, the INS detained 828 juveniles (under the age of 15). According to the G-23 data, the Border Patrol and Investigations encountered 58,596 minors. (1.41 percent of the juveniles encountered are taken into custody for longer than 72 hours.)

Executive Office of Immigration Review Data

EOIR tracks the progress and outcome of cases in its Automated Nationwide System for Immigration Review (ANSIR) case management database. We took a random sample of juveniles in the JAMS database apprehended before April 1, 1999. We selected the first half of FY 1999 because it was the earliest period available that INS managers said JAMS data was complete and reliable and it allowed time for the juveniles to complete their proceedings. This sample size gives us a 95 percent confidence interval and an error margin of +/- 5 percent. EOIR provided the OIG with requested information on the sample of 325 individuals. In the sample, 23 juveniles had not yet completed their immigration proceedings. The following data pertains to the remaining 302 juveniles.


Failure to appear rate:

  • 125 failed to appear for their 1st merits hearing
  • 9 given an order of removal in absentia for failing to show after the 1st merits hearing.
  • 134 (44 percent) dropped out of proceedings.

Effect of change of venue on failure to appear rate:

  • 128 received at least one change of venue at some point during proceedings.
  • 89 (70 percent) dropped out or failed to appear.

Effect of release on failure to appear rate:

  • 164 completed after release
  • 112 dropped out or failed to appear (68 percent)

Effect of legal representation on failure to appear rate:

  • 131 had an attorney of record, 39 failed to appear (30 percent)
  • 171 had no attorney of record, 95 failed to appear (56 percent)

Legal representation:

  • 131 (43 percent) had an attorney of record (E-28 on file)

Completion before release:

  • 173 have a corresponding release to guardian code in JAMS FY 2000
  • 9 completed before release
  • 164 completed after release

Duration of proceedings (1st master calendar to completion date):

  • Average: 160 days
  • Median: 84 days

Results of the hearings process for the 168 juveniles completing the process:

  • 2 were granted relief
  • 1 was deported
  • 1 case was terminated
  • 37 were granted voluntary departure
  • 122 were removed
  • 5 were administratively closed