The number of illegal aliens waiting for their day in a U.S. immigration court has more than doubled since President Obama took office.
According to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), the backlog reached an all-time high of 496,704 at the end of June.
That’s up from a backlog of 223,809 immigration cases that were pending at the end of the 2009 fiscal year, when Obama took office.
According to TRAC, the average wait time for an immigration case also reached an all-time high of 672 days. That’s up from 430 days in 2009 and 643 last year.
The massive influx of unaccompanied alien children from Central America beginning in 2014 has contributed significantly to the backlog.
TRAC found that 29 percent of pending immigration court cases involved unaccompanied minors or women with children. Such cases are deemed high priority and have led to delays for other immigration cases.
In states like Texas, which bore the brunt of the Central American surge, average wait times have grown at a much quicker pace than the U.S. as a whole.
In 2009, the average wait time for immigration court cases in Texas was 203 days, TRAC’s data shows. That figure has increased by three-and-a-half times, to 712 days.
Dan Cadman, a fellow with the Center for Immigration Studies, blamed President Obama’s weak immigration policies for a spike in the backlog.
“It is one that has developed during the Obama administration because of lax policies that actually drive the flow because they force government agencies to act as the middle-men who complete the smuggling transaction of placing these minors and women with the families that engaged coyotes to smuggle them into the United States to begin with,” Cadman wrote on CIS’s blog.
According to TRAC, the rate of growth of the backlog has slowed to a small degree because of the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review’s recent hire of 34 new immigration judges.
But the new hires — which brings the total number of immigration judges working cases to 273 — is still not enough to keep pace with the number of new cases entering the system, according to TRAC.
“These new appointments have been insufficient thus far to stop the continued rise in backlogged cases. Currently the flow of new incoming cases continues to exceed the number of case dispositions each month so that the backlog continues to grow,” the group’s report reads.
TRAC notes that as of June, each federal immigration judge is handling 1,819 cases on average.
“Or expressed another way, the backlog now represents about 2.5 years of workload to clear up even if there were no new cases being filed,” TRAC estimates.