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November 26, 2011

'Dreamers' languish in deportation limbo
By Phil Fairbanks

So far this year, cases in Buffalo's immigration court have taken from start to finish an average of 284 days, according to a research center that tracks immigration cases. That waiting period is down slightly from last year but up dramatically 3/4 about 80 percent 3/4 from the low of 158 days in 2006. Nationwide, the number of active immigration cases reached a new all-time high of 285,526 in July, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. The research center also identified increases in the backlog of cases and the time it takes to complete them. Even more important perhaps, the center found only 8 percent of the nation's caseload is made up of "criminal" cases -- cases based on criminal activity or activity in violation of national security. In Buffalo, the percentage of criminal cases is about 11 percent. By contrast, the majority of Buffalo's caseload -- 88 percent -- involve individuals charged with less serious immigration violations. They range from entering the country illegally to entering legally but overstaying their visas. "They're pretty clogged," Susan Long, director of the records center, said of the courts in Buffalo and Batavia. "And with judges down, they're even more clogged." One of the reasons the courts are clogged is the people being targeted by immigration investigators. More and more, they seem to be noncriminals.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
Copyright 2011
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