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Immigration Court Backlog Hits All-Time High

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Ethan Barton Editor in Chief
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Backlogged cases in U.S. immigration court has hit an all-time high of nearly 600,000, despite a recent surge of new judges, government data shows.

“On average individuals have currently been waiting 670 days, and may have to wait much longer before their cases will be heard,” according to government data analyzed in a Monday report by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

“Nine courts that currently account for a quarter of this backlog require some individuals to wait for more than four additional years from now before a hearing is scheduled,” the report continued. (RELATED: DHS To Expedite Deportation Proceedings By Not Using Judges)

The Immigration Court in San Francisco, for example, has 42,000 backlogged cases and some individuals must wait more than five years before their hearing date. (RELATED: Judge Refuses To Halt Trump’s New Immigration Order)

A total of 79 immigration judges have been sworn in since November 2015 and Congress recently approved funding for another 10 – a significant increase compared to earlier years, according to the report.

“But there is little evidence that this increase in hiring is sufficient to handle the incoming caseload, let alone make a dent in the court ‘s mountainous backlog,” the report said.

Additionally, individuals must face multiple immigration court hearings, “except for individuals who want to immediately agree to their removal,” the report said.

“How quickly a case can be heard varies by court location, and the priority assigned to the case,” the report said. “Thus, there is tremendous variation in scheduled wait times from an average of 22 days for the Immigration Court hearing cases in the Cibola County Correctional Center in Minnesota, to 1,820 average days for individuals heard by the Immigration Court sitting in Chicago, Illinois.”

“Individuals detained by [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] are generally given priority and their cases are heard more quickly,” the report continued.

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