The federal immigration courts have reportedly reached a record high for backlogged cases, with over 445,000 cases pending, according to the Los Angeles Times. The backlog of pending cases hit 445,706 in April, the paper claims, citing Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse as the source of the information. This figure marks an increase of almost 30% in backlogged cases since October 1st 2013.
The arrival of more than 68,500 unaccompanied immigrant minors and a similar number of families from the southern border last year – the great majority from Central America ‒ overwhelmed the nation’s immigration courts, with many such cases being expedited in courts in Los Angeles and other big cities.Unaccompanied immigrant minors still only account for 16% of the current total, however, despite the surge. The backlog of juvenile cases is nonetheless 68% higher than it was in June 2014, according to the Times. Pending cases for Central American immigrants have also skyrocketed, with a rise of 63% for Guatemalans, 92% for those from El Salvador and a staggering 143% rise for Hondurans.
The biggest backlog in immigration cases is in California, followed by Texas and New York, with Florida and New Jersey in fourth and fifth place respectively. “There is no ability of the court to keep up,” says Denise Gilman, the director of an Austin University of Texas law school immigration clinic. “We really are in a vicious cycle.”