Immigration courts can't keep up with the flow of cases: delays continue to grow
In 2021, U.S. immigration court backlogs reached nearly 1,6 million. According to Syracuse University's Transaction Records Clearinghouse, which tracks immigration court data, the number of such cases grew faster from October to December. CNN.
The gap is almost equivalent to Philadelphia's population, according to the latest clearing house study.
Immigration courts, which are subordinate to the Department of Justice and decide whether to deport immigrants, have been delayed for years, with more new ones added to the list of old cases all the time.
“Immigration courts are in crisis and the time for small measures is over. The immigration court backlog can only be eliminated by removing the immigration courts from the US Department of Justice and creating an independent immigration court,” said Mimi Tsankov, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges.
“The Department of Justice has prioritized its law enforcement functions over immigration courts. The result is poor management, underfunding, and a gigantic and growing case portfolio,” she added.
Cases piled up faster than judges could keep up with them, resulting in the biggest increase on record last quarter. From October to December 2021, the immigration portfolio increased by almost 140 cases, according to Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.
"These data suggest that immigration courts are entering an alarming new era of even more crushing workload - all the more alarming since no attempt at a solution has yet been able to reverse the avalanche of cases that immigration judges now face," the report said.
Among the factors contributing to the sudden rise are the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to the closure of some courts, and the arrival of thousands of immigrants at the US-Mexico border who, if allowed to enter the US, are given court dates.
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Last fall, the Department of Justice ended its use of case quotas for immigration judges, a matter of controversy. The judges argued that the quotas represented expediency, not due process.
While the suspension of case quotas is unlikely to affect the speed at which judges catch up with the backlog, it is a welcome change for immigration judges and is part of the Joe Biden administration's plan to roll back Donald Trump-era rules.
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