The US immigration court system UU It is struggling to accommodate the cases, with a 38 percent increase in the delay since President Trump took office, according to a new government data analysis.
At the national level, there were 746,049 pending cases as of July 31, an increase from 542,411 at the end of January 2017, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.
"It's a pretty remarkable increase: almost 40 percent in 18 months," former immigration judge Paul Schmidt Wickham told DailyMail.com. "It shows that the policies that this administration is following make things worse instead of better."
The increase in the number of cases has occurred unevenly, with 10 states responsible for most of the growth in backward cases.
While not all states have an immigration court, immigrants who live in each state have cases before an immigration judge. This map illustrates where people live with pending immigration cases
Maryland had the highest increase (96 percent), with 33,384 cases delayed as of July 31, compared with 17,074 at the end of January 2017.
Massachusetts followed, with a 76 percent increase to 26,782 cases, compared with 15,208 cases 18 months earlier.
No sane person would consider this and think that throwing more cases into this system would be a good idea. -Immigration Health Paul Schmidt Wickham
Georgia had the third highest increase at 67 percent (increase to 23,249 cases from 13,955), followed by Florida with an increase of 57 percent (up to 50,544 pending cases from 32,233). California had an increase of 48 percent and the highest accumulation of any state with 140,676 unresolved cases, compared to 95,252.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has tried to solve the problem through a series of steps, however, many experts say that the changes under Trump's administration are exacerbating the delay.
"No sane person would consider this and think that throwing more cases into this system would be a good idea," said Schmidt Wickham.
The Executive Immigration Review Office, which oversees the immigration court system, announced earlier this month that it has hired 23 new immigration judges in an effort to assume the delay and to compensate for the judges' retirement.
That change brings the total number of immigration judges to 351, and Justice Department officials expect to add another 75 in the fall.
Sessions says he has also introduced a "simplified" approach. to hire judges, a historically long process, to reduce the average hiring time to 266 days, compared to 742 days in 2017, according to data from the Department of Justice.
In addition, the Department of Justice has introduced a new quota that would require immigration judges to close 700 cases per year.
The fees "would threaten the integrity and independence of the court and possibly increase the backlog of the court," according to the National Association of Immigration Judges, the union that represents judges.
Ten states were responsible for most of the increase in the backlog of cases within US immigration courts since President Trump took office.
Despite these efforts, experts say that a series of policy changes under Trump's administration continue to aggravate the accumulation and more recent actions could worsen the situation in the coming years.
"The problem lies in the basic political decisions to manage the workload," said Susan B. Long, co-director of TRAC, which published the analysis. "Historically, delays have been increasing for a long time, so this is not a new problem, but they have accelerated since President Trump took office."
Launching hundreds of thousands of boxes to an already overloaded system will obviously have an impact. -First Immigration Health Jeffrey S. Chase
Under the current administration, the Department of Justice ended an Obama era practice that gave the government procedural discretion in immigration cases, which allowed Immigration and Customs attorneys to prioritize certain cases and deprive others of priority by removing them from the agenda indefinitely.
For example, officials could disrupt the cases in which an immigrant has been living in the country for many years without committing any crime, who is also paying taxes and has close relatives who are US citizens. UU
The goal was to allow the Department of Justice to focus more time and energy on prosecuting immigrants who were convicted of other crimes, involved in gang activities or who had just crossed the border.
Long told DailyMail.com that "tens of thousands" & # 39; of cases could be reintroduced in the file now that the procedural discretion has been eliminated.
The sessions also issued a decision earlier this year that takes away the authority of immigration judges to close cases administratively. Similar to procedural discretion, administrative closures allowed a judge to close low priority cases to make room for more serious crimes.
The accumulation of immigration cases has increased steadily in the last decade
From October 1, 2011 to September 30, 2017, 215,285 cases were administratively closed, according to the decision of Sessions.
Now those cases are being added back to the file, former immigration judge Jeffrey S. Chase told DailyMail.com.
"Launching hundreds of thousands of boxes in an already overloaded system will obviously have an impact," he said.
In addition, the Trump administration plans to terminate Temporary Protected Status for people from El Salvador in September 2019 and Haiti in July 2019. TPS is a designation for people from certain countries for whom it would be unsafe or not feasible for them to return to their homes. homes. . Chase said ending the program will add to the accumulation in the future.
Long said that the increased repression of immigration in the workplace and on the southern border of the United States is being handled mainly by the criminal courts, so they are not having a big impact on the accumulation.
In many cases, the simple & # 39; abandonment & # 39; The case – when the cases are postponed because a judge is not available or can not reach all scheduled cases in a day – is the cause of the backlog, Long said.