Sunday, February 4, 2024

Fueled by Unprecedented Border Crossings, a Record 3 Million Cases Clog US Immigration Court; Immigration Court Backlog Tops 3M with Some Getting Dates 5 Years Out; Each Judge Assigned 4,500 Cases

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
Fueled by unprecedented border crossings, a record 3 million cases clog US immigration courts:
Eight months after crossing the Rio Grande into the United States, a couple in their 20s sat in an immigration court in Miami with their three young children. Through an interpreter, they asked a judge to give them more time to find an attorney to file for asylum and not be deported back to Honduras, where gangs threatened them.
Judge Christina Martyak agreed to a three-month extension, referred Aarón Rodriguéz and Cindy Baneza to free legal aid provided by the Catholic Archdiocese of Miami in the same courthouse — and their case remains one of the unprecedented 3 million currently pending in immigration courts around the United States.
Fueled by record-breaking increases in migrants who seek asylum after being apprehended for crossing the border illegally, the court backlog has grown by more than 1 million over the last fiscal year and it’s now triple what it was in 2019, according to government data compiled by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.
Judges, attorneys and migrant advocates worry that’s rendering an already strained system unworkable, as it often takes several years to grant asylum-seekers a new stable life and to deport those with no right to remain in the country.
“Sometimes hope already sinks,” said Mayra Cruz after her case was also granted an extension by Martyak because the Peruvian migrant doesn’t have an attorney.
“But here I’ve felt a bit safer,” added Cruz, who said she had to flee with only the clothes on her back with her partner and their children after repeated threats from gangs.
About 261,000 cases of migrants placed in removal proceedings are pending in the Miami court — the largest docket in the country. That’s about the same as were pending nationwide a dozen years ago, said Syracuse University professor Austin Kocher.
The backlog includes migrants who have been in the United States for decades and were apprehended on unrelated charges, but most are new asylum seekers who declare a fear of persecution if they are sent back, he added.
Backlogged courts, administered by the Justice Department, often get little attention in immigration debates, including in current Senate negotiations over the Biden administration’s $110 billion proposal that links aid for Ukraine and Israel to asylum and other border policy changes. --->READ MORE HERE
Immigration court backlog tops 3M with some getting dates 5 years out:
As the U.S. continues to deal with record numbers of migrants and asylum-seekers crossing the southern border, the border crisis is made worse by a backlogged and slow immigration court system.
Immigration courts are tasked with processing asylum claims and removal proceedings for those who entered the country without going through legal channels. The right to ask for asylum applies regardless of whether someone enters the U.S. through a port of entry or crosses illegally, but all asylum cases still have to go through the court system.
Once immigrants are processed, they’re given a court date to appear for the next step in their case. But because of the recent influx of migrants and a lack of resources, many of those follow-up dates have been up to five years out. 
NewsNation obtained two order-to-appear notices from two migrants, both issued just five days ago. One had an appearance date in September of 2027 and the other was for July 2029.
Data from TracImmigration shows the backlog of cases has now topped 3 million, with each judge in the system being assigned roughly 4,500 cases. It’s a big jump from last year’s backlog of 2 million.
The immigration court system has been dealing with backlogs for years, but the increase in cases began rising dramatically around 2020. In December of 2016, there was a backlog of 533,909. By December 2019, that number jumped to 1,089,696 and by December 2022, the backlog stood at 2,056,328.
The problem is resources. In addition to a lack of border patrol agents, there aren’t enough judges to handle the cases.
At the end of Title 42 in May, Department of Homeland Security Director Alejandro Mayorkas said the Biden administration was increasing personnel to address the then-expected surge in migrants crossing the border after the COVID-era immigration policy lifted. --->READ MORE HERE

+++++Immigration Court Backlog Tops 3 Million; Each Judge Assigned 4,500 Cases+++++

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