Immigration Courts Continue to Sink Under Backlog of Cases

Immigration Courts Continue to Sink Under Backlog of Cases

According to the Miami Herald, U.S. immigration courts are continuing to fall farther and farther behind in processing removal cases, largely due to a lack of immigration judges. For example, in the state of Florida, an immigration case is likely to last a minimum of one year. As a practical matter, however, the case may drag on far longer; the average length of an immigration court case is 551 days, which is closer to two years than one year. Even if Florida immigration courts took on no new cases, it still would take about four years to resolve all of the immigration cases pending before the court. These understaffed and overworked immigration courts are indicative of immigration courts throughout the country. On a national level, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports that repeatedly inadequate numbers of immigration judges have caused the number of pending immigration cases to double between 2009 and 2015. About 600,000 immigrants are awaiting decisions in their cases, and the backlog for some immigration courts is three years or more. Currently, there are only about 300 immigration judges nationwide, each with a caseload of about 2,000 cases, which is completely unmanageable. Furthermore, about 40% of these judges are eligible for retirement, meaning that the numbers of immigration judges are likely to continue to dwindle, even as caseloads continue to grow. Even worse, the GAO estimates that it takes about two years to hire a new immigration judge. And even if the government committed to hiring more judges, it would need to hire 200 – 250 new judges, provide them with support staff, and find them space in which to work. The problem is, there is no funding for this massive hiring process. Even worse, past administrations from both sides of the aisle have made constant policy decisions that tend to undermine the existing caseload management of immigration courts, such as moving unaccompanied minor cases to the head of the line over other cases that had been pending for years, or moving judges to border towns to work rather than their normal courtrooms. Whether refugee status, asylum, or another form of legal relief is appropriate, the deportation defense lawyers of Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C. have handled countless deportation defense claims on behalf of individuals who have been detained and charged with removal. We know how devastating it can be for individuals to be detained and separated from their families; even worse is the increased potential for sexual abuse while being held in immigration detention facilities. We care about you and your family, and we want to help you remain in the country. Call our office today to set up your legal consultation.
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