Four year backlog of immigration court cases
More than 445,000 illegal immigrants are awaiting their day in court according to a report by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.
That number represents a 30% increase from 2013 and is fueled largely by the surge of illegal minors who cross the border last year.
During that surge, unaccompanied children’s cases were given priority in the courts and expedited — referred to as “rocket dockets” — in Los Angeles and other cities.
Even so, they make up a small proportion of the backlog: 70,035 cases, about 16% of the total as of April. But the juvenile case backlog is still 68% larger than it was last June, when there was a backlog of 41,641 juvenile cases.
While most backlogged cases involved Mexican immigrants, their backlog has increased only about 4% since the start of last fiscal year, while the backlog has skyrocketed for Central Americans — up 63% for Guatemalans, 92% for Salvadorans and 143% for Hondurans.
The report, based on federal data, found that California, Texas, and New York led the nation with the largest immigration backlogs, followed by Florida and New Jersey.
The case backlog has been years in the making, and immigration courts are attempting to address the problem through staffing.
There are 233 judges in 58 courts nationwide, but 17 more are expected to start by month’s end, and 68 more are in the process of being hired, according to Louis Ruffino, a spokesman for the Executive Office for Immigration Review at the Justice Department, which handles immigration cases.
“Part of the solution to the backlog is a vigorous, ongoing hiring process to bring on more immigration judges,” Ruffino said.
As of this month, judges in Miami have also been hearing Texas immigration cases via videoconferencing, he said.
The new hires will barely replace the judges who are retiring this year:
“We’re waiting for the tsunami to come” of judges retiring, said San-Francisco-based immigration Judge Dana Leigh Marks, who’s been on the bench for 28 years and is president of the National Assn. of Immigration Judges.
She said 100 immigration judges were expected to retire this year.
“If you look at how difficult the working conditions become when you are so overworked and not given the support that you need, it makes sense that what happens is people retire at their earliest opportunity,” Marks said. “That is really tragic for the country because these are skilled people.”
Many immigration judges, including Marks, now handle more than 3,000 cases. As a result, they have been forced to delay hearings for years, some until 2019.
Even though this story highlights the plight of several illegal aliens whose cases have been delayed, the fact is, the overwhelming majority of those 445,000 illegals have no intention of showing up for a court date and have already disappeared into the illegal alien underworld.
Still, if 25% of the illegals wish to have their day in court, that's more than 110,000 cases that need to be adjudicated. The extra judges will help but the real solution is too obvious for the government; drastically curtail the number of illegal aliens who cross the border in the first place.