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Immigration court backlog up 300%, system ‘on brink of collapse’

Washington Examiner – by Paul Bedard

The American Bar Association is warning of an “existential crisis” over the unprecedented surge in the number of immigration cases clogging up courts.

In a new 176-page report that repeatedly raps the Trump administration’s policies, the ABA said that the backlog in immigration courts is over 1 million. 

“Crucially, the number of cases pending before the immigration courts (which were about 262,000 cases at the time of the 2010 Report) has increased to unprecedented levels. There were more than 760,000 pending cases at the end of FY 2018 and an additional 330,000 cases that could be returned to active dockets in short order,” it said in revealing the latest accurate numbers.

Without fast changes, the lawyer’s group added, the immigration court system will collapse. President Trump has sought to increase the corps of immigration court judges.

“Today the immigration courts are facing an existential crisis. In light of the fundamentally changed nature of the threat to the immigration court system, the overall conclusion … is that the current system is irredeemably dysfunctional and on the brink of collapse,” said the report.

The ABA is calling for a new and politically independent “Article I” court system similar to the U.S. Tax Court to handle the immigration cases.

Said the ABA: “We recommended the creation of an Article I court system for the entire immigration judiciary as a first preference and the creation of an independent agency in the Executive Branch as a good second option. In either case, the system would include both a trial level and an appellate level tribunal. The specific features of the two approaches would differ primarily with respect to the selection, tenure, and removal of judges.”


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