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Immigration Court Backlog Soars, Posing Challenges for Biden

The backlog of immigration cases in the United States has reached levels with over 3 million cases.

The backlog of immigration cases in the United States has reached levels with over 3 million cases reported in November 2023 according to data from Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). This surge is primarily driven by an increase in asylum seekers at the U.S. Border, which poses a political challenge for President Joe Biden especially as immigration becomes a central issue in the upcoming election year.

The growing backlog is a cause for concern with TRAC highlighting that there are now immigrants awaiting their immigration court proceedings in the U.S. Than the population of Chicago, which is the country's third largest city. Due to judges handling caseloads exceeding 4,000 each some individuals may have to wait for years before their day in court.

Senator John Cornyn from Texas attributes the strain on the courts to the border policies implemented by the Biden administration claiming that the influx of migrants has overwhelmed immigration judges. In response President Bidens administration has hired 302 judges. Seeks additional funding for an extra 150 judges, as part of its budget proposal for 2024. However it remains uncertain whether this expansion will be sufficient to address the growing backlog.
The positions of judges, in the court system for immigration cases are not lifetime appointments but rather administrative roles. The Executive Office for Immigration Review manages this court system. According to Kathryn Mattingly the offices press secretary reducing the backlog of immigration cases is a priority. To expedite cases the agency is implementing initiatives like pre hearing conferences and specialized dockets in addition to increasing the number of judges.

When migrants arrive at the U.S. Mexico border seeking asylum or refuge they are given a "notice to appear" in immigration courts across the country. Immigration judges hold discretion when deciding asylum claims and approval can lead to a pathway towards status and citizenship.

Despite an increase in the number of judges from 517 in 2020 to 734 by October the courts still grapple with handling a number of cases. Each judge currently faces than 4,500 cases. Critics, including Republicans and conservative Democrats argue that some migrants may exploit the system by making claims about persecution while anticipating long waits, for their court dates.

A study conducted by TRAC covering two decades until 2021 reveals that immigration judges granted asylum or other forms of immigration relief in 50% of completed cases. This statistic highlights both the complexity of these cases before the courts. Underscores how crucial it is to have a fair and efficient immigration court system.
In year 2023 the Southwest border witnessed an increase, with almost 2.5 million encounters of migrants which surpasses records dating back to 1960. This presents both humanitarian challenges as immigration court dates are scheduled years in advance. It underscores the importance of immigration reform that tackles the causes of migration and simplifies the legal process for individuals seeking asylum, in the United States.

Full Article : USA Today

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