US immigration courts overwhelmed by migrants awaiting hearings


WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nexstar) — Texas Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar says the U.S. immigration courts are overwhelmed by migrants waiting for a hearing.

“There are times where they have to wait two, three, four years before they go in front of a judge,” Cuellar said.

Congress set aside funding to hire 100 additional immigration judges in the latest spending bill, bringing the number of authorized immigration judges to 534, but Cuellar said there’s still a big problem.

“The courtrooms have not matched the number of judges,” Cuellar said.
Right now, there are only 426 courtrooms, which means more than 100 judges are having a hard time doing their jobs.

Congress has set aside more than $5 billion this year for the upkeep and construction of federal buildings. Cuellar says he wants to use some of this money to rent and construct federal courtrooms.

New Mexico Democrat Deb Haaland saids this will speed up the asylum process and decrease the backlog of cases.

“It will do every bit of good to make sure we are processing all those cases in a legal way, in a fair way,” she said.

Cuellar said the added space can be used for judges to hear immigrants in person or by video conference.

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