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Human Right First
January 18, 2017

Immigration Court Backlog Continues to Grow

New York City—Human Rights First today reiterated its calls for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to hire additional immigration judges and for Congress to support increased immigration court staffing, in light of new data released this week by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) that shows an all-time high backlog of 533,909 pending cases. “Unless concrete action is taken to reduce the immigration court backlog it will continue to rise at unsustainable rates, negatively impacting the lives of those seeking protection from persecution and violence,” said Human Rights First’s Shaw Drake. “The delays have left hundreds of thousands of individuals, particularly women and their children, in limbo and undermine access to pro bono counsel. The immigration courts’ staffing imbalance has been left unaddressed for years; it is long past time to address this escalating threat to fair and effective process.” The DOJ’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), which contains the immigration courts, currently faces over 533,900 pending cases and a long-standing severe gap in immigration judge and support staff. The most recent analysis to provide predictions of case wait times, conducted by TRAC in August 2015, found that the immigration court backlogs have caused delays lasting over three years on average—and five to six years in the most backlogged courts. With the continued growth of backlogged cases wait times have likely proportionally ballooned.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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