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Houston Chronicle
April 15, 2015

Lawyers say immigration judge's absence leaving clients in limbo
By Lomi Kriel

As Houston's immigration courts struggle under one of the largest backlogs in the nation, with thousands of immigrants seeing their cases reset to November 2019, one of the four assigned judges here hasn't heard any cases for months, and there's no government explanation. Lawyers say it's not the first time Judge Mimi Yam, who came to Houston from San Francisco in 2004, has had long absences from the overwhelmed court, which faces a backlog of more than 31,300 cases. Mattingly, the EOIR spokeswoman, couldn't provide statistics on how many cases Yam decided in the past five years. But an analysis of federal records by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University indicates that at least when it comes to asylum, Yam hears far fewer cases than the rest of the Houston bench. Between 2007-2012, the most recent data available for Yam, she decided 115 asylum claims, denying 81 percent. In the last three years of that period, she decided fewer than 25 asylum cases a year, according to the analysis. By contrast, two of her colleagues each decided more than 400 asylum claims and the remaining two judges more than 280 in the same six-year period. Even when she's on the bench, lawyers say the 58-year-old Yam made decisions that seemed to unnecessarily slow an already sluggish system.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
Copyright 2015
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