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Bloggings: TRAC Data Indicates Growing Backlogs in Immigration Courts, by: Danielle L. C. Beach-Oswald

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) continues to experience backlog in
its data system. Government enforcement data obtained from the Transactional
Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) indicates that the current number of
pending cases is up 23 percent, which is 82 percent higher than in the past
decade. 


Considering the potential problems the backlog creates, one questions why
this is happening.  The main reasons include: the Justice Department's
inability to hire an adequate number of new judges and the simple growth of
incoming cases.  While new judges are being hired, unfortunately the new
hires are not keeping up with the turnover.  Prior vacancies and existing
budget cuts do not help the situation.  Across the board, states are facing
different circumstances depending on internal local dynamics.  As pending
cases are rising on the national level, some states are fortunate to be
facing declines. Not only do wait times vary, but as one court may be losing
judges another may be gaining new ones.  


The TRAC data provides a useful tool to see the exact severity and current
situation by state and even nationality for pending cases.  For example, the
court in Arlington, Virginia currently faces 9,867 pending cases total, of
which 3,064 are of El Salvadoran nationality, a growing ethnicity group in
the region.  In the case of Maryland, it is confronting 5, 074 pending cases
of which 1, 379 are from El Salvador.  When comparing the national level to
that of larger states such as New York, California and Texas, the pending El
Salvadorian national cases in the tri-state Washington D.C. area are
substantially lower.


The TRAC interactive tool allows one to become more familiar with the
immigration process affecting one's own community, rather than just hearing
about it as some obscure issue reserved for the federal government. 
Furthermore, having such data available for the general public may also serve
to put some pressure on officials to remedy the backlog problem sooner rather
than later.

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