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Think Progress
September 29, 2017

As courts overwhelmed to handle cases, more immigrant children left without legal representation
By Esther Yu Hsi Lee

Starting in late 2013, an uptick in gang violence in Central America began driving a large number of unaccompanied alien children to the Mexican-U.S. border. Tens of thousands of children, sometimes unaccompanied by a guardian, turned to the United States to plead of asylum or some other form of humanitarian status for a chance to legally stay in the country. Because of the swell in the immigration court system, the former Obama administration put these children on a so-called “rocket docket,” calling on immigration judges to adjudicate their cases as rapidly as possible, often to the consternation of immigrant advocates and lawyers. Nearly four years after these children began showing up on the U.S. southern border, there remains an overwhelming number of pending cases of these unaccompanied kids that still have to be adjudicated — 88,069 to be exact as of August 2017, according to data by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. There were so many children that the Juan Osuna, the director of the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, said their cases put “unprecedented pressure” on the court system.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
Copyright 2017
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