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November 9, 2018

448 Days, 12 Hearings and $58,000: One Dreamer's Journey Through the Immigration System
By Matt Katz

Two years ago Chajon tried to get a Green Card and become a permanent citizen through his wife, who is a U.S. citizen originally from Colombia. That's when problems arose that led to his arrest by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in August 2017 and an extraordinary journey through the detention system that included 12 scheduled court hearings and 448 days locked up at two jails. Based on the amount ICE pays to the detention centers, his imprisonment has so far cost taxpayers more than $58,000. Chajon's case is just one in an increasingly clogged immigration court system. The number of pending cases in New Jersey immigration courts skyrocketed 26 percent from the 2017 fiscal year to last year, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. There are more than 40,000 open cases in the state, and 1 million nationwide. A shortage of immigration judges and stricter enforcement policies under the Trump Administration compounds the backlog, meaning more detained immigrants and prolonged jail time for those like Chajon.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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