New Statistics on Immigration Court Backlog

A recent report published by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse found that the number of removal cases waiting to be decided in immigration court has risen to nearly 600,000. 100,000 of those cases were added in the last twelve months.

Although the Trump administration has touted the need to remove immigrants who are engaging in criminal or terrorist activity from the US, TRAC’s report shows that only 1.7% of cases filed in the last year involve individuals charged with an aggravated felony, and 4.1% involve charges of less serious criminal grounds for deportability. There has not been a single case so far this year in which the government has alleged that the individual is deportable because he or she engaged in or is likely to engage in terrorist activity. The vast majority of cases arise from noncriminal immigration violations, such as illegal entry or visa overstays.

The final months of President Obama’s term were marked by an increase in ICE raids and removal actions, which added significantly to the backlog. Under President Trump, the Department of Homeland Security has continued apace, and given the administration’s position on the issue of undocumented immigration, the backlog is likely to continue to grow.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for immigrants who are charged with removal: Senior attorney Daniel Smith says, “I look at the backlog as a good thing, because it allows a case to develop. Circumstances can change, and having more time before the case is adjudicated is usually a benefit to the person in removal proceedings. The flipside to the benefit of having more time to work on the case is that it can become a cloud hanging over someone’s case. It can be incredibly stressful.”

Disclaimer: The content in this blog is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Nothing herein should be construed as legal advice or opinion. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact us.

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