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Group says immigration court backlog grows deeper

Researchers at the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse released a new report Tuesday indicating the backlog in United States Immigration Courts edged to near 300,000 cases in May 2011. The backlog of immigration cases awaiting a removal hearing in an Immigration Court has been steadily increasing since 2006. The number of backlogged immigration cases is at an all-time high. The number of backlogged immigration cases has increased 48 percent since the end of 2008.

The increase in unresolved immigration cases tracks a rise in the number of cases pursued by the Department of Homeland Security. Experts say DHS has dramatically increased investigation and enforcement into immigration matters. In My, Congress held hearings on the backlog of unresolved immigration cases.

The most recent data suggests the nationwide average length of time an immigration case has been pending is now 482 days, according to the recent report. At the end of 2010, the average immigration case remained pending for 476 days. The average length of delay varies widely. For instance, immigrants from Qatar wait an average of 970 days before resolution of an immigration case, while immigrants from Cuba wait an average of 275 days while the immigration case remains pending, according to the report.

Juan Osuna, director at the Immigration Review office spoke at congressional hearings in May. He asked Congress to approve funding to increase the number of immigration judges across the country. Over the past few years as many as 50 new judges have been hired to hear immigration cases. The number of new hires is offset somewhat, the total net increase resulting from the 50 new hires is 36 judges. As of December, 2010, the number of judges who hear immigration cases totaled 272 across the country.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "Number of Pending US Immigration Cases Climbs- Report," Stephanie Gleason 7 Jun 2011

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