Putting TRAC to Work
  News Organizations
Las Vegas Sun
July 4, 2011

Immigration court's caseload keeps growing in Las Vegas
By Karoun Demirjian

Nationwide, immigration courts, which are administrative courts under the Justice Department, have for the past few years faced a growing backlog of cases. It’s a problem tied to the stepped-up activities of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Bush-era scandal surrounding Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ politically motivated hiring of new judges. Nationally, the backlogs appear to be leveling off. But in Nevada, it’s taking off. Las Vegas once had a three-judge bench, and from fiscal 2006 to fiscal 2009, that bench was able to contend with yearly increases in undocumented immigrant apprehensions. But in 2009, Judge Irene Weiss retired, just as the Obama administration began to step up enforcement — a campaign that brought a 26 percent spike in cases. It caused the docket to nearly double, from 1,144 cases in May 2009 to 2,093 in May 2010, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, which collects data on various government agencies. Las Vegas appeared to catch its breath a little over the past year, when the national Executive Office for Immigration Review transferred Judge Jeffrey Romig from its York County, Pa., office to Las Vegas. From May 2010 to last May, despite an 11 percent increase in cases, the backlog increased just 15 percent, from 2,093 to 2,388; not bad for a court struggling to play catch-up. “It takes time to work off a spike,” said Susan Long, a statistician and professor at Syracuse University, and co-director of TRAC, comparing Nevada’s backlog with states that have had to recover from vacancies on the bench. “If you’ve dug a hole, it takes a while to climb out of it.”

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
Copyright 2011
TRAC TRAC at Work TRAC TRAC at Work News Organizations News Organizations