Immigrants in the United States sometimes have to wait years to appear before an immigration court judge. This issue is getting worse rather than better, with an enormous backlog of cases that now tops 400,000. Juan Osuna, the Executive Office for Immigration Review director, has told NBC Bay Area that only a complete overhaul of the entire system by Congress will solve the problem.
“There’s no question that the system, the immigration court system, is under incredible stress right now,” Osuna admits. Last year immigration courts in the United States received as many as 305,045 cases, many of which did not get heard and are now part of the 445,607 cases that remain backlogged, the Transactional Records Access Clearing House at Syracuse University claims.
Osuna admits that the current state of affairs is unacceptable and need to be fixed. “It has been a function, I think, of not enough resources being put into the court system to handle the incoming case load,” he says. “I think over the last couple of years we have had a couple of body blows that have actually made the problem even worse.”
Osuna points out that four years ago, in 2011, hiring freezes were implemented across the US government due to budget restrictions, with the courts then being stretched even further by the surge of immigrants crossing the border from Central America last year. Some cases may now not be heard for another four years.