Immigration Courts Face Staggering Backlog
The backlog and wait times in immigration courts have reached the point where many individuals won’t have their first hearing until the end of President Trump’s first four years in office.
Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse revealed this in a report released Monday that analyzed government data through the end of April. There is an all-time high of 585,930 cases in the immigration courts’ backlog, and the average waiting time for these cases is 670 days. The backlog has more than doubled since 2010.
The wait times vary from court to court. Chicago has the longest projected wait time, 1,820 days, and a hearing has just been scheduled there for June 30, 2021.
The Trump administration has made some moves to address the backlog by hiring several new immigration judges. Seventy-nine have been sworn in since November and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has called for the hiring of 125 new immigration judges between 2017 and 2018. The recent omnibus budget from Congress only provides funding for ten new judges. (RELATED: ‘THIS IS THE TRUMP ERA’: Sessions Announces New Push To Prosecute Illegal Immigrants)
Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly also signed a memo in February that would allow illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. for less than two years to be deported without a court hearing. This policy is currently only used for people who are detained within 100 miles of the border. The Department of Homeland Security, however, has yet to implement the new directive and didn’t respond to repeated inquires Tuesday about why that is the case.