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Immigration Court Case Backlog Nears Two Million!

July 16, 2022 (2 min read)

TRAC, July 15, 2022

"Pace of Immigration Court Processing Increases While Backlog Continues to Climb

(15 Jul 2022) The latest case-by-case records show that the Immigration Court backlog reached 1,821,440 at the end of June 2022. This is up 25 percent from the backlog just at the beginning of this fiscal year. These figures are based on the analysis of the latest court records obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University.

New Immigration Court cases continue to outstrip the number of cases being closed. So far during the first nine months the court received 634,594 new cases, but has only managed to dispose of 287,711. These closures took 1,130 days on average or more than three years from the date of the Notice to Appear (NTA) to the court's disposition. Part of the delay represents the time it took from the Department of Homeland Security to actually file the NTA after it was issued. This delay reached record levels during the Trump administration three years ago, but NTAs are being filed much more promptly under the current administration.

The pace of court closures also has been accelerating. After the partial government shutdown in March 2020, court closures averaged just 6,172 per month for the remainder of that fiscal year. During FY 2021, court closures roughly doubled to 12,055 on average per month. By the end of the first six months of FY 2022, monthly closures had again doubled to an average of 23,957 per month. And this last quarter covering just the three-month period from April - June 2022, monthly closures doubled again to 47,991 on average each month.

According to court statistics, immigration judges on board at the beginning of this past quarter had increased just 6 percent over levels at the beginning of FY 2022. Thus, the increase in judge hiring only accounts for some of this speedier pace. A more important factor appears to be the many changes implemented by the Biden administration to increase the speed that court cases get scheduled and decided. However, as TRAC has reported, the increase in speed has come with heightened due process concerns, increasing the number of asylum seekers unable to secure legal representation which then greatly diminishes their opportunity to adequately prepare and present their asylum claims.

For more highlights on the Immigration Court, updated through June 2022, go to:

Immigration Court Quick Facts
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