Putting TRAC to Work
  Policy and Public Interest Groups
Niskanen Center
July 19, 2017

The Causes of our Immigration Court Backlog, and How We Can Fix It
By Melanie Huettman

The number of cases pending in the immigration court system is currently at an all-time high. Immigration judges struggle to get through their overburdened dockets each year, leading to lengthy wait times—in most cases, years—for those awaiting a decision. Rather than working to solve the problems, the Trump administration has exacerbated them. According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), there were nearly 600,000 immigration cases pending at the end of last May. While the case backlog used to be “manageable”—staying under 200,000—it crossed that threshold during President Obama’s first term and has risen quickly since. By expanding enforcement priorities without a corresponding expansion of court personnel, President Trump’s policies are making that backlog worse. As a result, immigration-related arrests have skyrocketed, increasing by 38 percent this year, but adjudication rates have remained the same.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
Copyright 2017
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