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The Washington Post
February 22, 2013

Many immigrants facing deportation must wait 550 days for their day in court
By Suzy Khimm

Immigrants can be deported summarily without a hearing. But those who do get a court case typically end up in a prolonged legal purgatory: The average immigration court case takes 550 days before a decision is handed down — a reality that the White House has promised to change as part of an immigration overhaul. A path to legal citizenship would dramatically reduce the number of cases winding their way through the overloaded courts, as well as the number of immigrants held in detention. But there are other reforms that the White House has proposed to reduce the immigration court backlog and restore due process to the system, though immigration and civil-rights advocates argue that policymakers could go much farther. The government can deport certain undocumented immigrants and non-permanent residents without a hearing, particularly if they’ve committed an offense that’s been classified as an ”aggravated felony.” But those with cases taken up by the immigration courts are waiting longer and longer to have them resolved. According to Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, there was a backlog of 323,725 cases as of January 2013 — a number that has continued to creep up. While the average time is 550 days, or about 1.5 years, in certain states, the wait can be much longer. In California, for instance, the average wait in 2011 for an immigration case was 660 days.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
Copyright 2013
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