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Texas Lawyer
February 12, 2015

Courts Prepare for Unaccompanied Minor Cases
By Angela Morris

After a state court issues findings, an unaccompanied minor must apply for SIJS status in immigration court. The federal government has ordered immigration judges to handle the children's cases first, Marks said. "The immigration courts are completely and utterly overwhelmed and overburdened," she said, adding, "Older case are getting pushed aside and languishing on the docket to handle these cases of recently arrived juveniles in a quicker fashion." In the Texas-based immigration courts in fiscal year 2014, there were 70,099 pending cases involving immigration charges, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. People had to wait an average of 501 days just to get into court. In 2014, the Texas-based immigration courts completed 7,176 immigration cases. The average case took 193 days from filing to closure. The numbers of juvenile immigration cases are growing. In fiscal year 2010, the Texas-based immigration courts handled only 1,622 juvenile immigration cases. In fiscal year 2014, they handled 10,654, which is more than a sixfold increase. Finding time for SIJS cases could be a long-term issue. "These children under federal law are allowed to seek the status up till they are 21 years old or they are deported from the country," explained Slayton, adding, "The fastest-growing group of these children are over 12 years of age. This is not a short-term issue for us. We don't expect this to be resolved quickly."

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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