National Security

Migrants Seeking Asylum Wait Years For Their Day In Court As Backlog Reaches New Record Under Biden

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Jennie Taer Investigative Reporter
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There are a record number of asylum cases backlogging U.S. immigration courts under President Joe Biden, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC).

There are roughly 1.6 million asylum cases, a record number, backlogging the system, according to TRAC, which analyzes and compiles government data. The wait times for court appearances have increased to an average of 4.3 years nationwide, TRAC reported.

Those waiting the longest for their court proceedings are in Omaha, Nebraska, where the average wait time is 2,168 days.

The new high for the Biden administration comes following a record year for migrant encounters at the southern border.U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) encountered more than 2.3 million migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal year 2022. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: ‘Unacceptable’: Texas GOP Rep Demands Mayorkas Answer To Data ‘Miscalculations’ After DCNF Reports)

“Asylum backlogs are not new (as TRAC has shown many times), since the number of people requesting the type of protection that asylum provides has typically exceeded the capacity of government agencies to process applications quickly and fairly. Yet in recent years, with political, economic, and environmental instability in places like Mexico, Venezuela, Haiti, Central America, Ukraine, and elsewhere, the United States has seen a growth in migrants’ needs that outpace even the growing number of Immigration Judges and asylum officers added by both Democratic and Republican administrations,” TRAC noted.

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

In fiscal year 2012, there were over 10,000 asylum cases, according to TRAC. That number increased to 750,000 in fiscal year 2022.

Those seeking asylum come from 219 different countries, according to TRAC. But nearly 60% of applicants come from only five countries that include Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico and Venezuela.

Roughly 30% of those seeking asylum are children, according to TRAC. There have been large increases in the number of asylum cases in Florida and Massachusetts recently, TRAC reported.

“The shifting composition of nationalities reflects not just the volume of individuals arriving at our borders seeking asylum, but the country’s policies and practices of which nationalities are being allowed to actually enter the U.S. and seek asylum. Asylum seekers from the Northern Triangle countries and Mexico were usually immediately turned away under Title 42 and not allowed to enter and seek asylum. The Biden administration has created some exceptions to this policy, exceptions that have been structured by nationality,” TRAC noted.

In March, the Biden administration implemented a rule to hire asylum officers to vet claims before illegal immigrants went to court to address the backlog. Additionally, it added Venezuelans to the list of several nationalities that can be expelled under Title 42, a Trump-era public health order used to expel certain illegal immigrants to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, in October.

Asylum officers can approve or deny claims. If a case is denied, an immigration judge can overrule the denial, according to TRAC. Some asylum seekers are brought first to an immigration judge if they were previously apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or processed for expedited removal.

The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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