More than One Million Cases Overloading Immigration Courts

The American Bar Association (ABA) recently released a 176-page report warning of an imminent “existential crisis” caused by the backlog of cases in immigration courts across the nation. The ABA Immigration Commission report released earlier this month calls for swift and extensive policy reforms. Without them, the Commission predicts the immigration system in the U.S. is likely to collapse.

How Case Delays Impact Immigrants

The ABA Immigration Commission report frequently refers to an earlier study released in 2010.  Since their initial report, the ABA says the already fragile immigration system has weakened to the point of becoming “irredeemably dysfunctional.” In 2010, the immigration case backlog stood at 262,000. Since that time, the backlog has more than tripled to over a million cases nationwide. And that backlog, the ABA argues, creates significant system failings and human rights concerns.

Some of the problems identified in the ABA report include:

  • Increased wait times for case resolution
  • Potential bias in selection of immigration judges
  • Policy changes to move cases along without the funding to do so
  • Reliance on teleconferencing for court proceedings
  • Surplus of immigration cases

While the backlog is troubling logistically and economically, it also has a real impact on human lives. Men, women, and children often have immigration matters rushed through the courts in a cursory manner with undesirable results or they face indefinite wait times for any sort of case movement. Hundreds of thousands of individuals are left to wait in limbo, unsure of their future.

ABA Recommendations for Immigration Court Reforms

To tackle the daunting caseload, the ABA Immigration Commission recommends the creation of an Article I court system. This court would operate much like the United States tax and bankruptcy courts do. Article I courts, or legislative courts, are created by Congress as established under Article I of the Constitution.

These immigration courts would include a trial level and an appellate level tribunal to streamline the immigration process while protecting national security and civil rights. One crucial distinction between the current court structure and the proposed Article I system involves the selection, tenure, and removal of immigration judges.

The creation of an Article I court dedicated to immigration cases is just one of more than 100 ABA recommendations offered to tackle the backlog of cases and reform the immigration court system.  Few of the suggested reforms suggested in the 2010 ABA report were adopted by the current or previous administrations. Whether or not the federal government moves to adopt this new round of recommendations remains to be seen.

Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Help Clients Navigate the Immigration Court System

The experienced immigration attorneys at Surin & Griffin, P.C. advocate for clients waiting for their due process regarding all types of immigration matters. We can assist with moving your case forward and pursuing the best resolution possible for your immigration matter. We keep you informed at every stage of your case, so you are always aware of your status and prepared for the next step. If you have questions about visas, sponsorship, removal, appeals, deportation, or asylum, call 215-925-4435 to arrange a consultation with an experienced Philadelphia immigration lawyer or contact us online. Located in Center City Philadelphia, we proudly represent clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania and nationwide.