Surge of Immigration Judges Impacts Docket

Credit:Chris Ryan

(ESPAÑOL) The increase in immigration judges has started to show a change in the management of the immigration docket.

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) released statistics showing that approximately 2,700 more immigration cases were addressed thanks to the mobilization of more than a hundred immigration judges, a move prompted by Trump’s executive order 13767, “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements.”

Noting that “border security is critically important to the national security of the United States,” the order instructed federal agencies to immediately implement a number of strategies to secure the United States’ southern border.

Among these was a call for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to immediately assign additional immigration judges to immigration detention facilities. In response, judges were “mobilized to Department of Homeland Security detention facilities across the country, including along the southern border.”

The EOIR also found that the judges completed “approximately 21 percent more cases on detail than the historical, expected performance of nondetailed immigration judges at the same base locations.”

“EOIR is pleased with the results of the surge of immigration judges to detention facilities and the potential impact it has on the pending caseload nationwide,” said EOIR Acting Director James McHenry. “The Justice Department will continue to identify ways in which it can further improve immigration judge productivity without compromising due process.”

The immigration court backlog remains a substantial burden on the justice system and on the process of deporting illegal immigrants. The most recent data, provided by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, found some 632,261 pending cases (these data are current through August 2017). That represents a 22.5 percent increase from 2016, when there were 516,031 cases.

The backlog in immigration courts is highest in border states California—18.8 percent of cases—and Texas—15.9 percent of cases. There is also a substantial backlog in New York state—13.5 percent.

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