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Center for Immigration Studies
July 24, 2017

The Massive Increase in the Immigration Court Backlog, Its Causes, and Solutions
By Andrew R. Arthur

According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, through May 2017, there were 598,943 pending cases in the nation's immigration courts.38 This means that there are approximately 1,837 pending cases per IJ. GAO determined that the average IJ completed 807 cases in FY 2015.39 Therefore, even if no new cases were filed, it would take the immigration courts more than two years to complete their pending cases. IJs are not the only resource in short demand. In June 2009, TRAC reported that there were just under four IJs for each judicial law clerk (JLC).40 As TRAC noted, JLCs "perform many functions that can help Immigration Judges handle their caseload ... [and] are hired each year for temporary one-to-two year positions from recent law school graduates through the Attorney General's Honors Program."41 The fewer hours of a JLC's time that an IJ can draw upon, the more time an IJ must spend doing research on unique issues and drafting opinions. GAO also found that a lack of "other support staff" (including clerical workers and legal technicians) was a "contributing factor" in the backlog

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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