The United States has long had a backlog of deportation cases straining the immigration system, but under the current White House administration, the number of deportation cases waiting to be tried has ballooned to over 1 million. According to Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse,
The latest case-by-case court records through the end of August 2019 show the court's active case backlog was 1,007,155.
Immigration courts fall under the Department of Justice (DOJ) system, and critics, like the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, point to the backlog as a sign that the immigration system is broken. Judge Ashley Tabaddor said,
Until we fix the design defect of having a court in a law enforcement agency, we will not be able to address the backlog in a fair and effective manner.
A spokesperson for the DOJ released a report where it was said,
...DOJ's own data further confirms there is a crisis at the border. This Administration is taking aggressive steps to increase productivity, close loopholes, and hire a record number of judges to address the backlog with our existing authorities.
But are concerns about the backlog really being addressed?
There are several steps the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and other agencies have to take to address the backlog. Whether these steps are or will be productive and fair is another question.
To date, the EOIR is buying real estate to establish new courts. These new courts are meant to help share and even out the burden of the backlogged cases.
The EOIR is also creating an online filing system that will someday theoretically replace the old-fashioned paper system. The system will be available to everyone who works in and with the immigration system, including judges, attorneys, and caseworkers, and will synthesize all records into one place. By the end of 2020, the EOIR hopes to have this electronic system in 36 courts.
Though the above is a good start, what's really needed are qualified judges. In response to the criticisms it has received from multiple groups and advocates, the EOIR is fast-track hiring new immigration judges, but the problem is that many of the new hires have no immigration law background whatsoever. Eleven out of the 28 judges that were sworn in during December 2019 had no immigration law background.
Immigration Law is Complicated
Immigration law is incredibly complicated. The fact that the DOJ is hiring judges without an immigration law background is troubling. The judges may lack the ability to understand and apply relevant law. Having an experienced immigration attorney advocate your rights and hold the judge accountable will be key to a successful end.
If you are facing deportation, you should hire an attorney to represent you who knows immigration law inside and out and who will fight on your behalf. Attorney Vilena Ramini has the knowledge and experience to argue your case and get the outcome you deserve. Contact her office today to schedule a case consultation.