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Immigration Policy Center
May 21, 2015

Empty Benches: Underfunding of Immigration Courts Undermines Justice
By American Immigration Council

Growing Court Backlogs Lead to Long Delays There have been rising immigration court backlogs and case delays since at least 1998 (Figure 2). Figure 2: Rising Immigration Court Backlogs & Rising Case Delays While Judges Remain Flat Source: TRAC, Immigration Court Backlog Tool (FY 2015 data through April 30, 2015); Bipartisan Policy Center, May 20, 2015; Los Angeles Times, May 16, 2015. More cases are filed than can be completed. For instance, in FY 2014, courts received 23 percent more matters than they completed (306,045 versus 248,078). Accordingly, court backlogs have more than doubled since 2006, reaching 445,607 cases in April 2015—an all-time high, and nearly 30 percent higher than the beginning of FY 2014. The average removal case as of April 2015 has been pending for 604 days—nearly a year and eight months. Backlogs in large cities are even worse—over two years in Los Angeles (768 days), Chicago (782 days), Denver (819 days), and Phoenix (806 days). Backlogs in Houston (636 days) and New York (605 days) are above-average as well.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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