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El Paso, Inc.
January 5, 2014

Immigration case backlog swells in El Paso
By Robert Gray

A shortage of judges to handle immigration cases is causing crowded dockets in El Paso and across the nation. As a result, cases are piling up at El Paso’s immigration courts, and the time it takes to get a first hearing is growing longer and longer. As 2013 came to a close, the backlog of cases and wait times had swelled to a new high in El Paso, following five years of rapid growth in the number of cases pending before the immigration courts here. “For the most part, it is a very frustrating thing for people who want to get out of court and move on,” said El Paso immigration lawyer Susan Waller Ramos, senior counsel at Cox Smith. The number of cases awaiting a hearing at immigration courts in El Paso is up 331 percent since fiscal year 2008, growing from 1,808 to 7,792, according to case data compiled by the nonprofit Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, or TRAC, at Syracuse. The immigration case backlog in El Paso is among the worst in Texas, which has one of the worst backlogs in the nation. People scheduled for hearings now wait 18 months on average. And the average time from when a case is filed to when it is closed has stretched from just 86 days in 2008 to 540 days, the data show.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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