Immigration Court Backlog Surpasses Nearly 1.6 Million Cases

According to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), which tracks immigration court data, the U.S. immigration court backlog reached 1,596,193 million cases at the end of December 2021 – the largest in history. 

If every person with a pending immigration case came together, the figure would be greater than the population of Philadelphia, which is the sixth-largest city in the United States. 

The number of cases increased more rapidly between October and December of last year, essentially since President Joe Biden took office. During this period, the backlog rose by nearly 140,000 cases – the largest quarterly growth on record. 

There were just 149,338 at the beginning of the Bush administration. The backlog significantly grew during the Obama administration and continued to accelerate under President Trump. In recent months, the rate of growth has erupted. 

Aside from the substantial increase in new immigration cases, the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to the backlog’s growth. Additionally, the amount of time taken to complete a case is considered a factor. 

The recent TRAC study suggests that immigration courts are heading toward a new era of even more substantial caseloads. But what is most concerning is that there is currently no potential solution presented by U.S. lawmakers to reverse this trend. 

Last fall, the Justice Department eliminated the use of case quotas for immigration judges that became a point of contention during the Trump administration for undermining the authority and discretion of these judges, who said that the metrics—which included completing 700 cases per year as a “satisfactory” score and other benchmarks—favored expediency over due process and failed to properly assess judges. 

The massive and ever-growing backlog highlights a broken immigration system and often leaves foreign nationals awaiting decisions on asylum and other immigration cases for longer periods. In fact, asylum seekers now have to wait an average of 58 months (which is almost five years) for a hearing. 

If you are interested in filing for asylum or experiencing issues with your current case in Phoenix, AZ, call Kanu & Associates, P.C. at (602) 353-7795 or fill out our online contact form today to request a consultation. We will not treat you like just another case number. 

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