Immigration Court Backlog Nearly A Half-Million Cases
The latest update from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, the group most-cited for keeping track of the immigration courts backlog, sets the number of pending cases at a new all-time high of 445,000, with “routine” hearings being delayed for up to four years.
The Los Angels Times is among those taking notice, saying that the rising caseload “… is a nearly 30% increase since Oct. 1, 2013, the start of the last fiscal year” and “… immigration courts have been overwhelmed since the influx last fiscal year of more than 68,500 unaccompanied children and about as many family units crossing the southern border, most from Central America.”
They also noted a changing trend, because “… most backlogged cases involved Mexican immigrants, their backlog has increased only about 4% since the start of last fiscal year, while the backlog has skyrocketed for Central Americans — up 63% for Guatemalans, 92% for Salvadorans and 143% for Hondurans.”
Federal data indicates that California, Texas, and New York led the nation with the largest immigration backlogs, followed by Florida and New Jersey.
The nation’s “immigration courts” are actually a division of the Justice Department, not really federal courts at all. The system report that it has 233 judges in 58 courts nationwide and officials say 17 more are expected to start by month’s end with 68 more are in the process of being hired. But Judge Dana Leigh Marks, who’s been on the bench for 28 years and is president of the National Assn. of Immigration Judges, told the L.A. Times that some 100 immigration judges were expected to retire this year.