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July 31, 2016

Immigration courts in prisons raise issues of due process, public access
By Max Siegelbaum

Judging the judges Immigration lawyers, professors and advocates say immigration courts inside prisons are in line with the secretive nature of the federal immigration system. For example, unlike federal criminal, civil and bankruptcy court records that can be publicly obtained online, there's no public database of immigration court filings. "It removes any kind of public oversight or accountability," said Jacqueline Stevens, founding director of the Deportation Research Clinic, a Chicago-based center dedicated to researching immigration law enforcement. The Justice Department had added 34 new immigration judges since February in an effort to deal with a massive backlog of cases. Although the move has slowed the rate of growth, the number of cases awaiting resolution has climbed to a new all-time high of 496,704 as of June 30, according to court data obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. The backlog represents an average of 1,819 cases for each of the 273 judges, TRAC reports.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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