Immigration Court Backlog Grows to 610,524 Appeals—Citizens Foot Bill
According to statistics from the Transactional Records Access Clearing House at Syracuse University there are currently 610,524 immigration cases pending judicial proceedings. Just under 115,000 of them were in California, and of those almost 60,000 were in the Greater Los Angeles Area.
Texas had the second-highest number of pending cases; just over 100,000 illegal aliens are awaiting a hearing.
These numbers reveal the success of President Trump’s illegal immigration agenda: at the beginning of fiscal year 2015 there were only 437,000 pending hearings, and since the beginning of Trump’s presidency they have risen dramatically: arrests and deportations are way up.
But the court backlog also highlights a big problem. According to Andrew Arthur, a former immigration judge, immigration courts lack the resources to deal with this volume of deportations, saying “we’ve had too few judges for far too long.” In fact, the caseload for each immigration court judge stands at 1,837, as of May, 2017. This will take months, if not years to work through.
Until the courts are adequately staffed, we can expect the backlog to grow, increasing costs and decreasing efficiency.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is aware of this problem, and has hired 21 additional judges, out of a total of 125 promised, but it may not be enough.
Another problem is the fact that Americans are subsidizing these immigration appeals, which often lack merit—the charge of illegal immigration is a prima facie case.
According to a panel discussion hosted by the Center for Immigration Studies, illegal immigrants don’t have to pay court costs like American citizens. For example, there are no fees for records and transcripts, and the filing fee of $110 is typically waived.
Although these fees don’t sound like much, they add up: $67 million in the case of waived filing fees, and much more for the judicial proceeds and legal work.
But of course, the real problem is that without some monetary penalty for appealing it is possible for illegal aliens to completely inundate the system in spurious appeals, delaying the process and increasing the costs—this is exactly what’s happening.
Unless steps are taken to reform the judicial process, the problem of illegal immigration will not go away any time soon.