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Testimony of Andrew R. Arthur Resident Fellow in Law and Policy Center for Immigration Studies To the Subcommittee on Border and Immigration United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary
April 18, 2018

For A Hearing Titled: "Strengthening and Reforming America's Immigration Court System"

Why was there such a stark increase in the backlog of cases, and decrease in the percentage of cases completed? A variety of factors, some of them susceptible to analysis, others less so, contributed to what has become a vicious circle of backlog, delay, and continuance. The first is resources. There are, simply put, too few judges (and complementary staff) to adequately do the job. There are 334 IJs, including assistant chief IJs in the field who hear some cases.44 According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, through February 2018, there were 684,583 pending cases in the nation's immigration courts.45 This means that there are approximately 1,956 pending cases per IJ. GAO determined that the average IJ completed 807 cases in FY 2015.46 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 human resource in short demand. In June 2009, TRAC reported that there were just under four IJs for each judicial law clerk (JLC).47 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."

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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