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How Immigration Backlogs Could Impact Biden’s Promised Immigration Reform

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How Immigration Backlogs Could Impact Biden’s Promised Immigration Reform

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, backlogs have stunted immigration court proceedings. Virtual hearings and altogether pauses in proceedings led to delays and backups in the system and its output.

But the pandemic only added to a history of backlogs plaguing the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the immigration courts that determine removal proceedings. And according to a recent report, these backups could hinder Biden’s plans for immigration reform.

The Migration Policy Institute reported in February that more than 1.6 million cases constitute the backlog currently in the immigration courts, while 9.5 million applications make up that of USCIS.

“The immigration court backlog now tops 1.6 million cases, up from 1.1 million before the pandemic and more than double the caseload that existed in fiscal year (FY) 2018. At USCIS, the backlog has surged from 5.7 million applications at the end of FY 2019 to about 9.5 million as of February. And at the State Department, waits for in-person consular interviews for immigrant visas rose to a high of 532,000 last July, up from an average 60,900 in 2019 before the pandemic.”

– Migration Policy Institute

These backups have had negative impacts on Biden’s ability to execute promised immigration reform. Cyclical pattern wherein Biden has been able to mobilize immigration reform despite backlogs in the form of TPS grants to certain individuals

Since taking office, Biden has expanded Temporary Protected Stats to certain nationals of Myanmar and Venzuela, among other measures. But even these reforms are stunted by broader challenges within the case logging system, which lead to critical delays.

“[Biden’s] failure to resolve both the impacts of the pandemic and broader structural challenges will leave some of his administration’s immigration promises unrealized,” the report says.

According to MPI, “recipients’ protections and work authorization can only be granted for up to 18 months at a time, meaning efficient processing is crucial.”

The Biden administration has thus far demonstrated an inability to alleviate the volume of USCIS and immigration court backlogs brought about by both the pandemic and broader systemic inefficiencies.

If you have questions or concerns about how backlogs can affect your case, contact us at Ibrahim Law Offices.

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