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Center for Immigration Studies
January 22, 2018

Immigration Courts Sets New Priorities, Performance Measures
By Andrew R. Arthur

The director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the agency with jurisdiction over the immigration courts, issued a memorandum last week establishing new case priorities and immigration court performance measures. These are necessary first steps in gaining control over the looming immigration court backlog. It is clear that this is an urgent issue for the agency. In a July 2017 Backgrounder, I described that backlog in detail, and identified the factors that caused it to balloon. That backlog has only grown worse in recent months. According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), as of November 2017, there were 658,728 cases pending before the immigration courts. In a post earlier this month, I explained that there are also approximately 350,000 other cases that are "administratively closed", that is cases that are pending but have been removed from the immigration courts' active dockets. This means that there are actually more than a million potential cases for the immigration courts to handle at this time. Because of this overwhelming backlog, certain cases need to be prioritized. As Justice Department spokesman Devin O'Malley explained to Fox News: "In 2010, immigration court benchmarks for non-detained cases were abruptly abandoned, and since that time perhaps non-coincidentally the caseload has tripled."

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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