Mounting Backlog: U.S. Immigration Courts Grapple with 3 Million Pending Cases

U.S. Immigration Courts Grapple with Unprecedented Backlog, Exceeding 3 Million Cases
Recent government data reveals a staggering backlog of 3 million pending cases in immigration courts across the United States, marking a triple increase since 2019, with over one million new cases added in the past year alone.

The surge in cases is primarily attributed to unprecedented waves of migrants seeking asylum after being apprehended for illegal border crossings. Immigration attorneys and advocates highlight the detrimental impact of the case backlog and prolonged wait times on an already strained asylum system.

When border officials apprehend migrants crossing illegally, they often release them with detention documentation and instructions to attend court proceedings in their destination city, leaving many uncertain about their next steps. Randy McGrorty, the executive director of Catholic Legal Services for the Archdiocese of Miami, a city experiencing a significant influx of asylum seekers, emphasizes the challenges faced by those released without clarity on their legal proceedings.

A shortage of immigration judges is a crucial factor contributing to the mounting backlog and unprecedented delays in court hearings. With an average caseload of 5,000 cases per judge under the current system, the National Association of Immigration Judges suggests that doubling the number of judges from 700 to 1,400 could alleviate the backlog by 2032.

While increased funding from Congress to hire more judges and support staff is seen as essential, many immigration experts argue that significant policy changes and streamlined processes are equally crucial. Some propose handling asylum cases administratively rather than through lengthy court litigation to address the systemic challenges in the immigration court system.


Source: Boundless