Growth in Immigration Court Backlog Varies Markedly by State

As of July 31, 2018, pending cases in Immigration Court nationwide reached nearly three-quarters of a million (746,049 cases). This is a 38 percent increase compared to the 542,411 cases pending at the end of January 2017 when President Trump took office.

Figure 1. Growth in the Immigration Court Backlog Since Beginning of FY 2017
(Click for larger image)

All states are witnessing an increase in Immigration Court backlogs. However, ten states account for the vast majority of the backlog. Four out of five pending cases in the country are before immigration judges in these ten states. The state of Maryland leads the pack with the highest rate of increase in pending cases since the beginning of FY 2017. Pending caseloads in Maryland have increased by 96 percent, roughly double its caseload at the beginning of FY 2017. Of the top ten states, courts based in Texas experienced the least amount of growth at 20 percent. See Figure 1.

Table 1. Growth in the Immigration Court Backlog by State
State* Beginning of FY 2017 End of July 2018 Percent Increase Rank
Maryland 17,074 33,384 96% 1
Massachusetts 15,208 26,782 76% 2
Georgia 13,955 23,249 67% 3
Florida 32,233 50,544 57% 4
California 95,252 140,676 48% 5
New Jersey 27,457 39,729 45% 6
Virginia 29,467 42,081 43% 7
New York 70,303 99,290 41% 8
Illinois 23,242 28,448 22% 9
Texas 91,865 110,625 20% 10
* Top ten states with largest current court case backlog.

In absolute terms, California has the largest Immigration Court backlog - 140,676 cases waiting decision, a number that has increased by 48 percent from its FY 2017 pending caseload level.

Courts based in three other states experienced even higher growth rates than in California. Massachusetts' court backlog grew by 76 percent. The backlog in Georgia grew by 67 percent, while pending cases in Florida grew by 57 percent.

These results are based upon proceeding-by-proceeding internal Immigration Court records obtained and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

Further details on the growing backlog for the ten states with the largest pending workload are shown in Table 1. Additional details updated through the end of July 2018 are available in TRAC's backlog tool for each immigration court, hearing location, and nationality.

TRAC's June 2018 report also provides details on how long cases which were currently pending at each hearing location have been waiting before their case is scheduled to be heard.

TRAC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit data research center affiliated with the Newhouse School of Public Communications and the Whitman School of Management, both at Syracuse University. For more information, to subscribe, or to donate, contact or call 315-443-3563.