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How big is the backlog facing the federal immigration courts?

The unfortunate reality for those people with cases pending in the federal immigration courts is that they are likely going to have to wait a long time for any sort of legal resolution allowing them to move forward due to a sizeable case backlog.

Interestingly enough, the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University recently published an eye-opening report examining why the federal immigration courts are so backed up.

What did the report say about the size of the backlog?

According to the report, the backlog in the federal immigration courts stood at 445,706 cases in April. This not only constitutes a 30 percent spike since the beginning of the last fiscal year, but an all-time record.

What's behind this dramatic spike in the federal immigration court backlog?

The report indicates that the arrival of over 68,500 unaccompanied children from Central America and close to an equal number of family units from the same region put more pressure on the already strained federal immigration courts.

While the cases of the unaccompanied minors were expedited, there are still over 70,000 cases -- comprising roughly 16 percent of the total backlog -- yet to be resolved.

Which states currently have the largest backlogs?

The report determined that the states with the largest backlog in the federal immigration courts are California, Texas, New York, Florida and New Jersey.

Is there any solution on the horizon?

Experts indicate that over 230 immigration judges are hearing cases across the nation with another 68 expected to be hired. This is significant, as immigration judges are believed to handle 3,000-plus cases per year.

However, they also found that close to 100 judges may be retiring in the coming year, something that could delay hearings until 2019.

It will be interesting to see what is done to help tackle this very serious issue. In the meantime, remember to consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible if you have any questions about how the federal immigration courts work or U.S. immigration law.

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