• Martín O'Hara, Esq.

Immigration Court Backlog Up 26% Despite Trump Administration Reduction Plan

Updated: Feb 25, 2019

The Trump administration plan to reduce the growing backlog of immigration court cases by instituting polices such as setting quotas for immigration judges has fallen short, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Access Records Clearinghouse.

According to the statistics, the current immigration caseload shows an increase of 26% since the Trump administration plan went into effect in October 2017. Despite the plan's aim of reducing the time it takes to complete an immigration court case, the average case wait time is more than two years.

According to Justice Department statistics, the number of immigration court cases has spiked in recent years, more than doubling from under 300,000 in 2011 to 650,000 by December 2017.

The Trump administration's quota plan, which calls for immigration judges to complete 700 deportation cases by 2020, could prevent attorneys from providing adequate representation to immigrants, according to the Association of Pro Bono Counsel. Whether immigrants have representation by an attorney makes a large difference in the success rate of their cases. Between October 2000 and November 2018, about 82% of people in immigration court without lawyers were either ordered deported or opted to leave the country voluntarily. This is contrasted with only 31% of those with lawyers were deported or left, according to Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse of Syracuse University.

The administration's plan has many critics, including American Immigration Lawyer's Association (AILA) President Anastasia Tonello, who stated, “This policy further undermines due process and the principle of judicial independence and will subject immigrants who come to the court expecting fairness to an assembly line system.”

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