The immigration court backlog


The pending immigration court case inventory on the Mexican border rose massively during the Trump Administration, and continues to rise.

From The Economist:

The new president’s apparently softer stance on immigration, as well as the pressures of the pandemic, have encouraged ever more people to try to cross the border illegally. Their number is now the highest in 21 years. In the past seven weeks alone, border agents have sent nearly 50,000 cases to the courts. That is increasing pressure on the country’s already overstretched courts. According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a data research centre founded at Syracuse University, immigration courts have nearly 1.5m pending cases in their dockets—the most on record and nearly triple the number in 2016.

The job of deciding whether or not a migrant can stay in America, either as an asylum seeker or on other grounds, falls to 535 judges across 68 immigration courts—on average almost 2,800 cases per judge. Were the judges to rule on three to four cases every business day, it would take at least two-and-a-half years to clear the docket. Scheduling interruptions caused by the pandemic, and the multiple hearings and appeals for each case exacerbate the problem.

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