Immigration Court Case Closures Accelerate, Racing to Catch Up with Growing DHS Filings
(21 Feb 2023) Immigration Court dispositions are reaching record highs. In FY 2023, Court closures are on pace to grow to nearly half a million cases disposed of by Immigration Judges. Case dispositions in FY 2022 were a record 47 percent higher than the previous high set during FY 2019. During the first four months of FY 2023 (Oct 2022-Jan 2023), Court closures reached 172,180, 85 percent higher than a comparable period during 2019.

However, if the pace of new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) filings in Immigration Court continues, FY 2023 may also reach a new record for incoming cases. During the same four months of FY 2023, a total of 329,380 Notices to Appear (NTAs) issued by the DHS were recorded in Immigration Court case-by-case records. Thus, the Court is on pace this year to receive nearly a million new NTAs seeking to deport immigrants.

Thus, closures would need to be double current levels simply to keep up with new filings. The likelihood of doubling the judges and staffing of the Immigration Court any time soon to achieve such a goal seems remote. As of the end of last year, the Executive Office for Immigration (EOIR) reports there were 634 Immigration Judges. A record number of 104 judges were hired during FY 2022, and according to EOIR press releases, 66 have been added so far during the FY 2023. However, despite this record hiring, new hires are only a fraction of the number that are actually needed to keep up with new filings and start reducing the existing Court backlog.

At the beginning of the Trump administration the backlog was 542,411. Two years ago, at the end of the Trump administration and the beginning of the Biden administration it was 1.3 million, up 139 percent. Today, two years later at the end of the first two years of the Biden administration, the Immigration Court's backlog has reached 2,097,195, already up 62 percent since Biden took office.

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