The backlog of cases in US immigration courts has reached over 500,000. This is an all-time high, according to officials, who noted on Wednesday that the figure has been reached because of immigrant families and unaccompanied minors fleeing into the United States from Central America.
The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) says that the US immigration system has as many as 500,051 cases still pending. EOIR spokeswoman, Kathryn Mattingley, said that the figures are the highest they have seen and that 100 additional immigration judges are currently being hired. They intend to increase the number of immigration judges to cope with the backlog, from the current 277 to as many as 399.
The backlog was also reported on by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearing House. It says that the number of judicial appointments has not been enough to cut down the backlog in immigration courts, as new cases continue to outnumber those resolved in any particular month. At the beginning of the 2016 fiscal year, the figure was 456,216, a sharp rise on that reported at the start of the 2015 fiscal year, which was 408,037.
Shaw Drake, from Human Rights First, said that the current situation is leaving people in a state of legal limbo for many years and that families are unable to reunite or to begin to rebuild their lives while their circumstances remain unresolved.