Immigration Law

Newly Arriving Families Not Main Reason for Immigration Court's Growing Backlog: TRAC

TRAC, Mar. 18, 2019

"The Immigration Court backlog continues to rise. As of February 28, 2019, the number of pending cases on the court's active docket topped eight hundred and fifty-five thousand (855,807) cases. This is an increase of over three hundred thousand (313,396) pending cases over the backlog at the end of January 2017 when President Trump took office. This figure does not include the over three hundred thousand previously completed cases that EOIR placed back on the "pending" rolls that have not yet been put onto the active docket.

This report examines how much of the growth in the current backlog is made up of newly arriving families at the southwest border. Since the beginning of last September, the Immigration Court has begun tracking which arriving cases involve these families. Starting back in 2014 under President Obama, family units had been given priority in docketing at the court to speed their disposition. When President Trump assumed office, cases involving parents with children were downgraded and no longer received priority attention. At the same time the court stopped tracking which cases involved family units and which did not.

This all changed in September 2018 when a new tracking system was implemented at the court. This report analyzes the case-by-case court records on these cases, and how their numbers compare with the flow of incoming new cases and the court's growing backlog."