A University of Syracuse research organization recently reported that pending cases at the nation’s immigration courts reached an all-time high, up 23% from just seven months ago and 80% since 2000. With over 228,000 cases pending in the first few months since October 2009, the average wait time is well over one year. The Los Angeles Immigration Court has the longest backlog, with pending cases averaging almost two years.
Rather than an increase in cases, much of this backlog is due to the growing vacancies of immigration judges, which reached an all-time high in January 2010. While delays may enable those facing removal an opportunity to obtain counsel, mount a case and even get affairs in order before being sent home, backlogs of this nature ultimately compromise the statutory and constitutional guarantee of due process for each person facing removal and create immense pressure on sitting immigration judges to complete cases.