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U.S. Immigration Court System on Brink of Collapse

A recent article in The Hill highlighted the American Bar Association (ABA) report entitled, “Reforming the Immigration System.” In its report, the ABA described the current immigration system as “facing an existential crisis” and “on the brink of collapse.” About the same time as the ABA released its report, the immigration case backlog reached an unprecedented one million cases.

Years of backlogged applications undermine the fairness and effectiveness of the immigration system. Individuals with valid asylum claims must wait years for relief and individuals with non-meritorious claims can remain the country for years. The federal government also has increasingly instituted hiring practices and policy changes that attempt to politicize immigration judges and hamper their ability to issue neutral decisions.

U.S. Immigration Court System on Brink of Collapse

The ABA proposes creating a new Article I court system that falls under the judiciary branch of the federal government rather than the executive branch. The current status of the immigration court system as part of the executive branch subjects the system to political influence. This proposal mirrors the recommendations set forth by the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy 38 years ago, which

Without substantive reform of the immigration court system, the backlog of cases will continue to grow. The already excessive backlog of over 542,000 cases as of January 2017 had almost doubled by August 2019. The average wait time for a hearing in immigration court is 696 days. Additionally, over 322,000 currently pending cases are not yet counted in the active caseload of the immigration courts, as immigration court judges had administratively closed the cases under previous administrations.

Moreover, there is no end in sight to the backlog. As of the end of August 2019, the immigration court system had resolved only about 262,000 cases. Even if no more removal cases were added to the current backlog, it still would take five years for the immigration courts to clear the backlog.

The immigration attorneys of Peek & Toland have the experience that you need when you are seeking any relief or benefit under federal immigration laws. We will determine the facts and evidence that are relevant to your case, evaluate your options, and help you decide the best course of action for your situation. We intend to place you in the best position possible to achieve your goals. Contact our Texas immigration attorneys at our office today and learn how we can assist you through this complicated situation.

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