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The Des Moines Register
December 10, 2016

Editorial: Immigration courts collapse under caseloads


If Trump is to have any hope of ratcheting up the deportations, heíll first have to clear the existing backlog. That will necessitate not only a Department of Justice exemption from the proposed hiring freeze, but also a massive infusion of additional resources. And even then, the wheels of justice will turn only so fast without violating the due process rights of the accused. Perhaps itís fair to cut the president-elect some slack and say that his promise to begin deportations within an hour of taking the oath of office was campaign hyperbole no one took seriously. Even so, some form of immediate action will be required. Trump canít simply step up enforcement at the border ó thatís another promise he has made ó because that would put even more people in line at the courthouse, creating an even bigger logjam. President Barack Obama, called by some the ďdeporter-in-chief,Ē made that mistake and it led us to where we are now. On average, it now takes more than 1,000 days for an immigration case to be heard. According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, the number of pending, backlogged immigration-court cases in the United States now stands at a staggering 520,000. In recent years, some judges have had as many as 10,000 cases pending before them at any given time. On average, each of the nationís 300-odd immigration judges dispose of 750 cases per year ó or roughly three cases per working day. This means the judges arenít exactly dawdling; they are processing cases as quickly as anyone could reasonably expect.


Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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