US immigration court backlogs exceed 500,000 cases

A new study has revealed that the number of pending cases before the US immigration court system is in excess of 500,000, with only 254 immigration judges on staff to deal with them all. The analysis was released on Tuesday by Human Rights Watch, with the study showing that the amount of backlogged cases has increased by more than 50 percent in the seven years since 2009, largely because there are simply not enough judges to hear them.

The greatest increases occurred in 2014 and 2015, but projections estimate that the current figures could double again and peak at more than a million by 2022. The backlog means that immigrants who may have perfectly valid claims to remain in the United States as well as those who should be deported as quickly as possible will all have to wait for years just for their cases to be heard.

Hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants are thus left in limbo for an average of around three years, although some cases the wait is actually even longer, with a number of courts delaying cases for as long as five or even six years.

Eleanor Acer from Human Rights Watch said in a press release that the backlog continues to grow with each passing year, marring the integrity of the country’s immigration system and adding that unless Congress moves to take action quickly, the problem is just going to keep on getting worse.