Putting TRAC to Work
  Policy and Public Interest Groups
Center for Immigration Studies
December 14, 2018

House Freedom Caucus Looks to Plug Loopholes A lame-duck Hail Mary?
By Andrew R. Arthur

As I explained in my July 2017 Backgrounder captioned "The Massive Increase in the Immigration Court Backlog: Its causes and solutions", a lack of resources is the leading driver for the backlog in the immigration courts, which stood at 768,257 as of September 2018 according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. In that Backgrounder, I stated: There are, simply put, too few judges (and complementary staff) to adequately do the job. With the swearing-in of 11 new IJs in June 2017, there are 326 so-called "adjudicator" IJs, including assistant chief IJs in the field who hear some cases. According to [TRAC], through May 2017, there were 598,943 pending cases in the nation's immigration courts. This means that there are approximately 1,837 pending cases per IJ. GAO determined that the average IJ completed 807 cases in FY 2015. 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 supply. In June 2009, TRAC reported that there were just under four IJs for each judicial law clerk (JLC). 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." 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
Copyright 2018
TRAC TRAC at Work TRAC TRAC at Work News Organizations News Organizations