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How Did the US Immigration Court Backlog Exceed 1 Million Cases?

According to the most recent records, the number of active immigration cases has doubled since 2017. Now, the U.S. immigration courts’ backlog has reached a whopping 1.3 million cases. These court cases will decide the legal immigration status of many people, but the current backlog is a stumbling block in the way.

Many factors have exacerbated the backlog. Our San Jose immigration law firm discusses some of these factors below:

Government Shutdown

Due to the partial government shutdown last winter, courts postponed most immigration cases. The courts only heard cases in which immigrants were being held in detention. As a result, they canceled around 42,000 other court hearings. This means that many cases idled due to postponed court hearings.


Rise in Asylum Seekers

The U.S. immigration courts have also seen a rise in the number of people seeking asylum in recent years. As living conditions worsen in their home countries, more and more immigrants are arriving at the border as a last resort. The result is that a large number of backlogged cases involve asylum seekers.


Understaffed Courts

Another stumbling block involves the U.S. immigration court system itself. These courts are severely understaffed given the number of cases underway.

There are only about 450 immigration judges working currently. The average case takes anywhere from one to two years to complete. That means a limited number of judges must focus on fewer cases for an extended period of time.

Additionally, limited funding and resources also play a part in delaying the completion of cases.


Current Policy

The American Bar Association (ABA) has also identified current policies from the executive branch as another factor delaying the completion of cases. An increase in immigrant arrests increases the number of cases the courts must hear. Further, enforcement policies that prioritize speedy trials render court rulings impartial and inconsistent.

These combined factors account for the unprecedented number of immigration cases currently active. This backlog means longer wait times. It also affects the fairness of U.S. immigration court procedures. Although many experts have suggested solutions, the best path forward remains unclear.


Contact Our San Jose Immigration Law Firm Today

Although the U.S. immigration courts face a daunting number of cases, there is still hope. If you face an immigration case, the most important thing is to receive a fair and successful trial.

Our San Jose immigration law firm can help you get the justice you deserve. We can build a strong defense to avoid the negative effects of the current backlog.

Our firm can help you determine the best course of action in this trying time. We handle cases in San Jose, San Francisco and throughout Santa Clara County. To find out more, you can reach the Law Offices of Sweta Khandelwal by phone at (408) 542-0499

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Sweta Khandelwal

Sweta completed her Masters in Law from the University of California, Los Angeles and her JD from the Faculty of Law, Delhi University in India and has been practicing law for 15+ years getting visas, green cards, and citizenship for 1000+ clients, 100+ companies across 50+ nationalities.

Sweta has been recognized as a ” Super Lawyer, Rising Star,” and as amongst the ” Top 40 under 40″ immigration attorneys in California (American Society of Legal Advocates). She is also the recipient of the Advocacy Award by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Sweta is also a chartered accountant — the equivalent of a CPA. This makes her uniquely positioned to understand the immigration needs of her business clients in the broader context of their corporate objectives.

Sweta is actively involved with immigration issues and immigrant communities in various capacities. She has assumed key roles at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), both at the local and national level. She has been a past chair at the Santa Clara Valley Chapter at AILA and has also been involved in various practice area committees at AILA National. Sweta has addressed multiple conferences/forums in the United States and worldwide on immigration and business issues.

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