Monday, June 6, 2016

Backlogs in immigration courts keep asylum seekers in limbo for years

Jeanne Kuang in the Chicago Tribune reports on something that immigration attorneys face regularly -- the backlogged immigration courts.  There are more than 20,000 deportation cases pending in Illinois immigration courts, a number almost five times higher than the number of cases a decade ago. This means the average wait time for a hearing date at the Chicago courthouse is now nearly three years.

The number of pending removal cases in the U.S. immigration courts has steadily grown over the past 10 years, from about 170,000 in fiscal year 2006 to over 485,000 this fiscal year, according to records analysis by Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

About 20 percent of those cases are applications for asylum, in which an immigrant has to prove he is subject to persecution or danger in his home country. Other deportation cases involve defenses such as people who have children who are U.S. citizens or people who are victims of domestic violence.

The backlog is in part due to a 2014 influx of Central American immigrants and a global refugee crisis.  The backlog has stretched out the wait times for immigrants, leaving them in legal limbo for years as they await their day in court. At Chicago's courthouse, the average case has a wait time of 1,046 days.


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