Backlog at U.S. immigration courts getting worse, new research finds

Immigration

This Central American father holds his son while being apprehended by Border Patrol agents on April 8, 2021, in La Joya, Texas. The number of asylum seekers whose new cases were filed in U.S. immigration courts so far this fiscal year have doubled the number of cases completed, new research shows. (Border Report Photo/Sandra Sanchez)

McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — The number of backlogged immigration cases is rising each month with far more new cases added than completed, according to new data by Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC).

The nonprofit research organization, part of Syracuse University, reports that 126,911 new immigration court cases were added so far in fiscal 2021, but only 68,260 cases have been completed.

“In general, the number of cases from DHS into the court system just continues to dramatically outpace what immigration judges are able to complete,” TRAC lead researcher Austin Kocher told Border Report on Tuesday afternoon.

The total number of backlogged immigration cases is now 1,337,372, the most ever.

“The number of cases are climbing every single month with no end in site,” Kocher said.

The new data out this week is compiled by TRAC, which tracks via public information requests all U.S. immigration court cases.

The rise in cases comes despite a dozen new immigration judges hired since President Joe Biden took office.

New data also shows that most of the pending immigration cases are in Texas, which has 213,254 cases.

By county, Los Angeles County alone has the single most pending deportation cases — 70,560; followed by Harris County, which includes Houston, which has 62,772 pending cases. Queens, New York, has the third-most with 42,096 backlogged immigration cases, TRAC data shows.

SOURCE: TRAC

The coronavirus pandemic significantly slowed the number of court cases that were heard in 2020 and the number of cases being reviewed is just not catching up, Kocher said.

“The number of pending deportation cases more than doubled during the Trump administration, but the court backlog still continues to grow under the Biden administration. As of the end of May 2021, there were more than 1.3 million people facing deportation just in the immigration courts. That’s about the number of people that live in Dallas. And the number only grows each month. At this point, it seems unlikely that the president — whether Democrat or Republican — can fix the problem, and that Congress will need to step in and enact immigration reform,” Kocher said.

In a statement issued Tuesday evening, the White House defended its immigration policies and actions since Biden took office, noting that migration north is affecting not only the United States, Mexico, which reportedly received 31,800 asylum requests from January to April, compared to 18,500 during that same period in 2019.

“The Biden-Harris administration is working to rebuild our immigration system after four years of chaos and mismanagement,” White house officials said. “The administration has made significant progress at establishing a well-managed and secure border while also treating people fairly and humanely.”

Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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The mission of BorderReport.com is to provide real-time delivery of the untold local stories about people living, working and migrating along the U.S. border with Mexico. The information is gathered by experienced and trusted Nexstar Media Group journalists hired specifically to cover the border.