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Federal immigration court backlog reaches record high

The United States saw a massive surge in undocumented immigrants from Central America last summer. This has contributed to the backlog in federal immigration courts being even worse. In fact, it is currently at a record high, with over 445,000 cases pending. This figure represents an increase of almost 30 percent from Oct. 1, 2013.

Part of the reason why courts are so backed up is due to over 68,500 unaccompanied Central American children who entered the United States through Mexico. However, these cases received priority, and cases of undocumented minors sped through the system during the immigration surge.

Although cases regarding children are only 16 percent of the bottleneck, they represent 70,035 cases. They are much higher than they were a year ago in June, when pending juvenile cases numbered 41,641.

The backlog of cases relating to Mexican immigrants is the highest, but the increase of pending Mexican immigration cases has only gone up by about 4 percent. Meanwhile, there has been a 63 percent increase of Guatemalan cases, a 143 percent increase of Hondurans and a 92 percent increase for Salvadorans.

Although it is difficult to imagine, some immigration law judges have over 3,000 cases on their dockets. This has led to unprecedented wait times. Some cases are scheduled out to 2019.

Immigration cases in Florida and other parts of the country often involve a long-term waiting game. However, there are legal strategies that can speed up a case in some situations. Whether or not these can be applied depends on the facts relating to the immigration matter, but it is important for anyone with a pending immigration case to explore all avenues at his or her disposal.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Immigration: 445,000 awaiting a court date, which might not come for 4 years," Molly Hennessy-Fiske, May. 16, 2015

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