PBS Airs Great Backgrounder On Immigration Courts Backlog Crisis

Amid the debate over President Trump’s immigration policies, it still gets overlooked that hundreds of thousands of people are in limbo because our immigration courts are backed up for years. Now PBS sheds some light with an interview featuring the San Francisco-based immigration judge who leads the National Association of Immigration Judges, Dana Leigh Marks. For years, hers has been a strong voice for the judges, who are not “federal judges” but who work for the U.S. Justice Department.

It’s a great backgrounder and you can find it here:

How a ‘dire’ immigration court backlog affects lives

Amid ICE Raids, Courts Are Even More Backed Up

Reporting on immigration raids and related issues often overlook the ongoing backlog at the nation’s immigration courts, where more than a half-million cases are already awaiting hearings and wait times can reach into years. But do not count the CBS Austin TV affiliate among those missing the story.

CBS Austin reports that U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, has introduced legislation to freeze funding to ICE and Border Protection until immigration court funding is increased. The “courts” are not actual federal courts. They are civil hearings conducted by the U.S. Justice Department; judges are employees of the Justice Department and have no authority to hold federal agents in contempt.

Read the story here:
As ICE enforcement grows, immigration courts can’t keep up

CBS News Asking How Trump Policy Works With Court Backlog



“What happens when a federal push to ramp up arrests and deportations hits a severely backlogged federal court system?” It’s a good question being asked by CBS News as it notes that “… President Donald Trump is taking what he portrays as a hard-nosed approach to undocumented immigrants, issuing an order this week to boost the number of U.S. border patrol agents and to build detention centers.”

Omar Jadwat, an attorney and director of the Immigrant Rights Project at the ACLU, offers an answer: “It’s a recipe for a due process disaster.” CBS backgrounds: “Just how backlogged is the system for adjudicating deportations and related legal matters? America’s immigration courts are now handling a record-breaking level of cases, with more than 533,000 cases currently pending, according to Syracuse University’s TRAC, a data gathering site that tracks the federal government’s enforcement activities. That figure is more than double the number when Mr. Obama took office in 2009.”

Read the excellent reporting here:

Overloaded U.S. immigration courts a “recipe for disaster”

BuzzFeed Notes Milestone In Immigration Court Backlog: 500,000

A man climbs over the international border into Nogales, Ariz., from Nogales, Mexico. Matt York / AP

A man climbs over the international border into Nogales, Ariz., from Nogales, Mexico. Matt York / AP

The BuzzFeed News is among those noting the milestone in Immigration Court backlog, reporting that “… the backlog of immigration court cases has ballooned to an all-time high of more than 500,000, a number fueled by unaccompanied minors and families from Central America, officials said Wednesday” and adding that “… the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) said there are 500,051 pending immigration cases in the U.S. system. To deal with the backlog, EOIR plans to boost the number of immigration judges from 277 to 399.”

Reporter Adolfo Flores backgrounds that “… the backlog has been fueled by a growing number of unaccompanied minors and families, mostly from Central America, who have been crossing the border in recent years. Many of them are fleeing violence back home and are seeking better economic prospects in the US.”

Read the story here:

US Immigration Court Backlog Exceeds 500,000 Cases For First Time

Conn. Takes Steps Toward ‘Civil Gideon’ Momentum

GavelFor some time, Connecticut Bar Association President William Clendenen Jr. has focused on the “justice gap” facing low and moderate income residents facing serious legal issues. So it’s no surprise that the state’s bar association, via its regular publication, is endorsing an effort by Democratic state Sen. Martin Looney to create a “Civil Gideon” task force, an important step if the state is ever going to address the issue.

Looney, who is the Senate president, has introduced a bill that would create a wide-ranging group to “… recommend the best ways to address the legal needs of the increasing number of people compelled to represent themselves when facing serious civil legal problems,” explains a piece in the Connecticut Law Tribune.

The CLT backgrounds that: “… [aid groups] are able to accept only a fraction of requests for assistance from eligible applicants. Those with modest incomes who do not qualify for free legal services are finding it increasingly difficult to afford market-rate legal fees. As a consequence, thousands of individuals and families face eviction and foreclosure notices, child custody proceedings, domestic violence hearings and other legal challenges involving basic human rights and interests without the support of legal advocates. Last year, nearly a quarter of all civil cases in Connecticut had one or more self-represented litigants. In family cases, the number rose to 85 percent.”

Eight of ten in family court. Wow! Read more here:

‘Civil Gideon’ Task Force Would Be an Important First Step

POLITICO Looks Into Judicial Appointment Backlog

The POLITICO website it taking a look at why the U.S. Senate is allowing a backup on federal appointments, including filling jobs for emergency judges. The report comes after a critical report documented serious delays in civil justice cases, as reported here in the Wall Street Journal.

That WSJ report quoted a seated federal judge in California saying of civil court delays that “it is not justice. We know it.”

Alarmingly, POLITICO says it might be political payback for the so-called “nuclear option” of last year that forced some appointments through to a vote despite the long-standing tradition of needing 60 of 100 votes to move a nomination to a full vote. Reports POLITICO of the GOP-controlled Senate, “… Republicans don’t pinpoint one reason for the major logjam at the judicial level, which has infuriated outside groups intent on seeing the Senate fill 23 judicial emergencies across the nation’s courts. Some argue that Senate Republicans are still getting up and running, while others say the delay is retribution for Democrats’ power play with the nuclear option.”

Read the POLITICO report here.