In Other News …
We post a lot of articles about the current state of immigration, changing laws, changing enforcement, and, of course, the latest news on all of it. As we’ve commented more than once, much of what constitutes the latest news these days is little more than rhetoric and screaming headlines. It tends to create fear, we try to break it down and advise accordingly.
In this environment it’s easy to lose track of some of the day to day realities of immigration law and practice. This hit home when we ran across an article posted over the weekend by FiveThirtyEight. As you may know FiveThirtyEight brings polls and analytics to everything from politics to sports to culture.
Their post covered the well-known, much discussed fact that during Trump’s first 100 days immigration arrests were up 37.6% from the same period last year. Roughly 75% of those arrested had been convicted of non-immigration related offenses but, as we have been reporting, almost 10,800 were noncriminal arrests, which is up more than 150% from 2016.
So far, nothing new, But, here’s FiveThirtyEight’s main point – the courts are not equipped to handle the new cases. Because, simply enough, the courts haven’t been able to keep up in the first place.
When Trump was inaugurated, there were half a million cases pending in immigration courts throughout the country. Cases that can take years to get through the system, As of April, the backlog of cases is pushing 600,000, One thing is certain, it is not going to go down anytime soon.
It’s only going to get worse and the increase in arrests is only a part of the reason why. The lack of judges is a major problem. There are currently 318 immigration judges nationwide. That’s out of 374 authorized by Congress. Independent observers of the court say that a minimum of 524 judges are needed to work through the backlog of cases in anything approaching an efficient manner. The budget Trump submitted to Congress in March allowed for the hiring of only an additional 75 judges.
A huge backlog of cases, more cases added to the system everyday, and a lack of judges to hear them. The courts are swamped.
It’s so very important for our clients, potential clients, and everyone else who needs to get anything done in an immigration court, to know and understand this. This is not the time to show up in court unorganized or missing a document, or missing a signature, or misfiling a form or … you get the picture. The court does not have the time nor the resources to assist people. They are backed up and under enormous pressure to clear or just plain get rid of cases.
Understand that and be prepared.