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Immigration Court Backlog Jumps While Case Processing Slows

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Immigration Court Backlog Jumps While Case Processing Slows

The Immigration Court's backlog keeps rising. As of the end of May 2018, the number of cases waiting decision reached an all-time high of 714,067. This compares with a court backlog of 542,411 cases at the end of January 2017 when President Trump assumed office. During his term the backlog has increased by almost a third (32%) with 171,656 more cases added. See Figure 1.

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Figure 1. Pending Cases in Immigration Court


It is noteworthy that the pace of court filings has not increased - indeed, filings are running slightly behind that of last year at this time. Instead, what appears to be driving the burgeoning backlog is the lengthening time it now takes to schedule hearings and complete proceedings in the face of the court's over-crowded dockets.


While the Justice Department, including Attorney General Sessions and court administrators, have implemented a number of new policies with the announced aim of speeding case dispositions, their efforts thus far have not had the desired result and appear to have actually lengthened completion times so that these have risen to new all-time highs.


For example, cases that ultimately result in a removal order are taking 28 percent longer to process than last year - up from 392 days to an average of 501 days - from the date of the Notice to Appear (NTA) to the date of the decision. And compared with the last full fiscal year of the Obama administration, cases resulting in removal take an average of 42 percent longer.


Decisions granting asylum or another type of relief now take over twice as long as removal decisions. Relief decisions this year on average took 1,064 days - up 17 percent - from last year. Again, these times represent a new all-time high for the court.

Current Wait Times for a Court Hearing

Read more at http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/516/

Posted by Nolan Rappaport

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Comments

  1. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    All this points to only one rational solution - legalization - and not just for a minute handful of people. We need to be thinking in terms of Reagan's 1986 law, which was not perfect, but accomplished a lot of good.

    Can Donald overcome his often, loudly proclaimed aversion to Latino, Middle Eastern, African and other immigrants who are not from "Countries like Norway" and follow Ronald's wise example from 30 years ago?

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 06-08-2018 at 08:57 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  2. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by ImmigrationLawBlogs
    All this points to only one rational solution - legalization - and not just for a minute handful of people. We need to be thinking in terms of Reagan's 1986 law, which was not perfect, but accomplished a lot of good.

    Can Donald overcome his often, loudly proclaimed aversion to Latino, Middle Eastern, African and other immigrants who are not from "Countries like Norway" and follow Ronald's wise example from 30 years ago?

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law

    Roger is referring to the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), but apparently he doesn't know about the basis for that bipartisan bill. Bipartisan in a real sense, not four republicans and four democrats.

    It was a "three-legged stool."

    Leg one was to improve border security to prevent illegal crossings at the border with Mexico; and, to improve the effectiveness of interior enforcement of the immigration laws with penalties for employers who knowingly hire undocumented alien employees.

    Leg two was an H-2A temporary worker program for agricultural workers,[xiii] which included wage and workplace protections to prevent it from becoming another exploitative Bracero Program.[xiv]

    Leg three was a legalization program to permit some, but not all, of the undocumented aliens already living and working in the United States to regularize their unlawful status and begin a lengthy process to earn temporary residency and, if they chose to continue, to earn permanent residency and citizenship.[xv]

    The democrats got the legalization program, but the republicans didn't get border security or interior enforcement.

    Every attempt to cut another deal for a legalization program has required that same three-legged stool approach; and without exception, the democrats have refused meaningful border security measures and only made token gestures to interior enforcement.

    For more information about this problem, see my article, " It is time to try a different approach to comprehensive immigration reform," http://discuss.ilw.com/content.php?3...olan-Rappaport

    Nolan Rappaport
    Updated 06-09-2018 at 12:08 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  3. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    And who bears a large part of the responsibility for the increasingly out of control immigration court backlog?

    Fellow by the name of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, that's who, because he is stopping IJ's from administratively closing cases that they would normally close because of a respondent's right to adjustment of status or other immigration relief. This attempt to prevent judges from using their own discretion in the interests of justice and fundamental fairness, and to turn IJ's into mere rubber stamps for Trump's mass deportation agenda to expel millions of non-white immigrants ASAP is making the backlog even worse.

    https://thinkprogress.org/immigratio...-86ab3e0e0b24/

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 06-09-2018 at 08:59 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  4. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by ImmigrationLawBlogs
    And who bears a large part of the responsibility for the increasingly out of control immigration court backlog?

    Fellow by the name of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, that's who, because he is stopping IJ's from administratively closing cases that they would normally close because of a respondent's right to adjustment of status or other immigration relief. This attempt to prevent judges from using their own discretion in the interests of justice and fundamental fairness, and to turn IJ's into mere rubber stamps for Trump's mass deportation agenda to expel millions of non-white immigrants ASAP is making the backlog even worse.

    https://thinkprogress.org/immigratio...-86ab3e0e0b24/

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    I wonder whether Roger reads anything in the articles he comments on.

    Even if he couldn't concentrate long enough to read the one page report he is commenting on this time, he could at least have looked at the pending case chart that I highlighted by including it in the ILW.com post.

    It shows that the backlog has increased every year since 2005. How is Sessions responsible for a backlog that has been increasing for more than a dozen years?

    I wish Roger would stop wasting our time this way.

    Nolan Rappaport
    Updated 06-09-2018 at 10:16 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  5. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    The thinkprogress.org article that I have cited above makes clear that Sessions' refusal to allow immigration judges to close cases administratively is making the backlog worse, because it forces them to spend more time with cases that they otherwise would not have to deal with.

    I didn't say that Sessions was entirely responsible for the increasing backlog. I only said that his action is making it even worse than it would otherwise be, bad as it as ready is.

    To be sure, Nolan is absolutely right to point out how serious the backlog was even before Sessions stepped in to make it even worse, for the sole purpose of deporting more people - no matter how much longer than before that may take.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 06-10-2018 at 06:53 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  6. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    I agree that Sessions hasn't found an effective way to reduce the backlog, but it's much harder to deal with now than it was in Obama's administration when it was significantly smaller. The worse it gets, the harder it is to deal with.

    But let's be realistic. Sessions himself has nothing to do with the work that is being done to reduce the backlog.

    Roger must think that the head of the country's largest law firm sits at his desk and writes immigration policy memo's and speeches himself.

    When I was a counsel and a bill was on the floor, I had to hand out talking points to the members so they could state a position on the bill.

    But that has to be qualified. If a bill is important to the member's constituents, or he is on the Committee that has subject matter jurisdiction; he should have at least basic knowledge of what the bill says and what position he should take. But on the floor, they typically are talking about specific amendments to the bill, so they also are going to need talking points much of them time.

    I am puzzled by Roger's comment that Sessions is trying to deport more people with his efforts to reduce the backlog, which suggests that there is something wrong with such a goal.

    I wonder what he thinks happens in removal proceedings.

    They are initiated when ICE issues a notice alleging that an alien is deportable and states the grounds.

    At the hearing, ICE has to prove its case, at which point the burden shifts to the alien. If he can't establish that he is eligible for some kind of relief and that it is merited if it is discretionary, the judge will issue a deportation order.

    Nolan Rappaport
    Updated 06-10-2018 at 10:24 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  7. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    I do not in anyway dispute Nolan's point that the immigration court backlog is long standing and would in all likelihood be getting worse with or without interference from Jeff Sessions. I have only two further comments, both offered with the highest respect for Nolan's experience and expertise, and for the purposes of clarification only.

    The first is that Sessions' role in making the backlog worse is not based on speeches, but on a major policy change which he has initiated as the official in charge of the entire immigration court system, which is a part of the DOJ that Sessions heads. As shown in the article I have cited above, Sessions has ordered the IJ's not to close cases administratively, even where they had been doing so in the interests of justice when respondents have clear rights to relief from deportation under the law, such as through adjustment of status through a valid and genuine marriage to a US citizen. Stopping judges from taking case off their calendar will obviously lead to greater backlogs.

    My final point and very last comment on this article is that immigration court proceedings, like all judicial proceedings, are governed by the requirements of due process and fundamental fairness. As Nolan says immediately above, they are aimed at seeing if a respondent is in fact deportable and whether he or she has a legal right to relief, not at achieving a predetermined result.

    Clogging up the calendar with cases which IJ's, using their discretion according to law, feel should be closed, while at the same time imposing time limits on the ability of IJ's to process cases, which Sessions has also done, are not conducive to the due process and fundamental fairness which are the bedrock principles of American law, and which immigrants in removal proceedings have just as much right to as any other litigants, no matter how unpopular they may be and how quickly this administration might wish to see them deported.

    This concludes my comments about this article.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law



    Updated 06-11-2018 at 07:34 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  8. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Roger says, "Clogging up the calendar with cases which IJ's, using their discretion according to law, feel should be closed, while at the same time imposing time limits on the ability of IJ's to process cases, which Sessions has also done, are not conducive to the due process and fundamental fairness...."

    It's up to the Attorney General to make that determination, and his determination is binding on the Board of Immigration Appeals and the immigration judges. Moreover, it is entitled to deference from the federal courts and the Supreme Court.

    But Roger is missing the point when he focusses on a single factor that may be slowing down the disposition of removal cases. Even if it really is a factor, it is only one of many.

    If Roger wants to make a constructive contribution to this problem, he should suggest a way to eliminate the backlog.

    And he should learn how to make his points with objective reasoning instead of relying on absurd claims, such as, Sessions decision "turns IJ's into mere rubber stamps for Trump's mass deportation agenda to expel millions of non-white immigrants ASAP is making the backlog even worse."

    He loses credibility when he makes such claims.

    I haven't seen any indication that Trump intends to institute mass deportations, and in any case, he doesn't have the resources to do it.

    And if he were to deport every illegal immigrant in the country, he would just be implementing the immigration provisions written by congress and signed into law by previous presidents.


    Nolan Rappaport

    Updated 06-11-2018 at 05:54 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
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