Boston Globe Deep-Dives Into Immigration Court Delays

Photo Credit: Boston Globe Report, Pat Greenhouse/Staff / File 2015

Citing government studies, The Boston Glove is reporting that the immigration court “logjam” has more than doubled over the past decade, to include about a half-million cases including 11,271 cases in Boston,
“As a result, some respondents’ cases may take years to resolve,” government auditors said in the June 1 report on the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, which oversees the immigration court system.
The Globe story focuses on a woman, her husband, and their two children who “… fled war-torn Syria in 2013, moving first to Lebanon before arriving legally in Massachusetts in March 2014. They applied for asylum, were granted temporary permission to stay, and were given work permits. So far, however, they have no idea how long they’ll be allowed to remain in the United States. Or even if they will.”
The reporting cites several causes for the backlog, including too few judges and the 2014 jump in people seeing refuge here. Immigration courts are considered “civil,” rather than criminal and thus do not have to provide lawyers and other protections. The courts are not part of the federal courts system but are a function of the Justice Department.
Read the Globe story here: At immigration courts, a growing backlog – The Boston Globe

Law Prof Offers Insight Into Trump Budget, Immigration Courts

A man has his fingerprints scanned by a U.S. Border Patrol agent while others wait their turn.
Photo Credit: Reuters/Jeff Topping

Lindsay M. Harris, an assistant professor of law at the University of the District of Columbia, has posted a deep-dive analysis into how President Trump’s budgeting might impact immigration courts, but also offering some historic insight along the way. In a post at The Conversation website (link below) that was picked up by the UPI, she notes that “… [Trump’s] budget requests would add to the more than $40 billion that the Department of Homeland Security will receive this year. It would include $4.1 billion to start building a border wall and $2.65 billion to increase the number of immigration detention beds. In comparison, the fiscal 2018 budget requests $80 million to add 75 new immigration judges.”

Harris also backgrounds that “… since 2002, funding for immigration enforcement has more than quadrupled, from US $4.5 billion to $20.1 billion in 2016. During the same time period, resources for immigration courts have increased by much less – 74 percent.”
Read the excellent analysis here:

San Francisco Newspaper Profiles Immigration Courts in Near-Chaos

Photo: Santiago Mejia, The Chronicle Second from right: Mike Lee, from South Korea, and others wait in line to go inside the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service building located at 630 Sansome Street on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, in San Francisco, Calif. Lee, a molecular biology student at UC Berkeley, said he was going in for a naturalization interview.

It may be a “sanctuary city,” but the federal immigration courts in San Francisco are not immune from the backlog and lack of legal representation found in the rest of the country. The San Francisco Chronicle has a profile of the situation online, noting that “… since [President] Trump took office Jan. 20… U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which runs the detention facilities, has increasingly refused to release immigrants on bond after their arrest. Nieblas, the former lawyers’ association president, said the same agency is also refusing to settle once-routine cases and forcing immigrants to litigate them in court.”

The report notes that “… in most court cases, they’re on their own. Unlike criminal defendants, immigrants have no constitutional right to legal representation, and a recent study found that 37 percent were represented by lawyers, mostly from nonprofit organizations charging no fees. For immigrants in detention, only 14 percent had lawyers.

Some studies indicate that people are five times more likely to win the right to say in the U.S. if they have a lawyer. Unlike criminal defendants, who are legally entitled to representation, immigration cases are considered “civil” and no such right exists.

The Chron notes that the legal-representation issue “… is percolating in San Francisco, where Mayor Ed Lee has approved $1.5 million in city funding for immigration lawyers at nonprofit agencies but opposes Public Defender Jeff Adachi’s request for $7 million to hire 10 staff attorneys to represent detained migrants.”

Read the story here: Immigration courts clogged with 2-year backlog

CBS News Asking How Trump Policy Works With Court Backlog

SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY, CBS NEWS

“What happens when a federal push to ramp up arrests and deportations hits a severely backlogged federal court system?” It’s a good question being asked by CBS News as it notes that “… President Donald Trump is taking what he portrays as a hard-nosed approach to undocumented immigrants, issuing an order this week to boost the number of U.S. border patrol agents and to build detention centers.”

Omar Jadwat, an attorney and director of the Immigrant Rights Project at the ACLU, offers an answer: “It’s a recipe for a due process disaster.” CBS backgrounds: “Just how backlogged is the system for adjudicating deportations and related legal matters? America’s immigration courts are now handling a record-breaking level of cases, with more than 533,000 cases currently pending, according to Syracuse University’s TRAC, a data gathering site that tracks the federal government’s enforcement activities. That figure is more than double the number when Mr. Obama took office in 2009.”
Read the excellent reporting here:

Overloaded U.S. immigration courts a “recipe for disaster”

CM Publisher Makes Case For Bi-Partisian Fix on Immigration Court

Sara Warner, Founding Publisher of the National Courts Monitor & California Courts Monitor

Courts Monitor Publisher Sara Warner, in a Huffington Post blog, makes her case that fixing the swamped immigration courts should be a low-hanging issue for bi-partisian action. Although, perhaps the parties have differing motivations.

See her argument here:

Swamped Immigration Courts Are A Bi-Partisian Fix Opportunity