Immigration Court Backlog Passes 1 Million
The Immigration Court's active backlog of cases has surpassed one million, and the number is continuing to grow. The delay in immigration courts’ cases nationwide is likely being amplified by the Trump administration's degressive immigration stance and immigration policies. The increase may also be due to a surge in recent Central American migrant asylum seekers being placed into removal proceedings. August 2019 alone may present an additional 322,535 cases, totaling 1.3 million active backlogged cases. The Immigration court has its hands tied with policies going back and forth in the courts, and the ongoing situation involving Central American migrants may be exacerbating the issue . 384,000 new cases are made up mostly of these individuals, who are being told to "remain in Mexico,” and make up 9.9% of the new filings. USCA Facts comments on the growing asylum backlog, stating:
"Unlike refugee seekers, who flee from their original homes and seek residency in a new country before arriving, asylum seekers flee their homes and seek residency in a new country upon arrival.”
In the United States, asylum cases take two different forms. “Affirmative” asylum seekers actively apply with the Department of Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). “Defensive” asylum seekers are those seeking asylum once facing removal proceedings before the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), also known as the “immigration court.” This type of asylum also includes cases of people caught at ports of entry or borders who cite that they cannot return to their home countries due to fear of persecution. https://usafacts.org/reports/asylum-border-immigration-court-backlog
Going into October 2019, there is still a lot “up in the air” with respect to the Trump administration’s immigration, especially when it comes to those in removal proceedings. The “Remain In Mexico” policy was recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, and immigration judges nationwide are dealing with mandatory quotas that they must fulfill. Attorney Ibrahim has observed that there are far too many individuals at the immigration court, but far too few judges able to accommodate the influx in cases. Still, there is positive news in other aspects of the immigration practice, with the recent news of USCIS announcing that it is accepting applications for deferred action, which we covered in a separate post. Nonetheless, we hope to see Congress, its sub-committees, and the Trump administration’s agencies push toward positive, impactful immigration reform to help alleviate the court backlog.