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Houston Chronicle
January 25, 2015

Central Americans pushed through immigration system as others wait
By Lomi Kriel

Cindy Jimenez and her 2-year-old daughter left a downtown immigration courtroom anxious about what next month might hold. The 17-year-old came here illegally from Honduras last June to find her mother. The girl was among more than 67,000 unaccompanied Central American children to stream across the Southwest border in 2014. Along with dozens of women and children who crowded into Judge Chris Brisack's courtoom, she recently had her first hearing and was told that her second would be in just 30 days. It's a startling turnaround for a clogged immigration court system that usually takes about six months between just these first steps, reflecting the government's effort to push Central American cases through the pipeline to deter other migrants from coming. The aggressive effort, however, has ramifications for others in the system, which is facing a record backlog of more than 430,000 cases nationwide. Some immigrants' hearings have been delayed indefinitely, which can impede time-sensitive cases and jeopardize their chances of gaining legal residency. Mexicans, who make up the largest portion of immigration courts' caseload, saw their disposition times increase by about 13 percent to 533 days, according to a new analysis of court records by Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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