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89.3 KPCC Southern California Radio
August 27, 2014

Immigration news: Inside LA's courts, overwhelmed by child migrant cases
By Dorian Merina

On a recent afternoon at the L.A. immigration courts, 10 children sat on wooden benches facing Judge Ashley Tabaddor. It was their first hearing and, though some came with a parent or guardian, none had an attorney. The youngest, a five-year-old girl, swung her head from the interpreter back to the judge, listening for instructions. “Sí, sí,” the girl answered softly when asked if her name was read correctly. “Yes.” The children were just the newest of more than 46,000 cases the L.A. courts are currently dealing with. L.A. has the largest share of pending immigration cases, making it the busiest jurisdiction in the country. Related: Understaffed immigration judges face rise of migrant cases “L.A. courts in particular face an enormous number of cases, disproportionately so,” said Emily Ryo, professor of law at the University of Southern California. Justice overwhelmed Other federal judges hear about 500-600 cases a year, said Ryo. Immigration judges in L.A. hear three times as many, or up to 1,600 on average. “That’s a huge disparity and you can imagine the sheer amount of work that goes into handling the number,” said Ryo. That has led to an historic backlog of cases in the immigration court system nationwide. There are about 375,000 pending cases as of June this year, the highest it’s ever been, according to government enforcement data obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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