WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration are meant to speed up deportations of undocumented immigrants, but the result could be an extreme logjam for the courts that vet them.
Currently the country-wide U.S. immigration court system — which handles most immigrant deportation proceedings — maintains an average backlog of more than 533,000 cases and the average wait time for a hearing is about three years, according to data from TRAC, a Syracuse University program that FOIAs the government’s internal databases.
Under Trump’s new orders to round up more undocumented immigrants, it’s likely that wait time will grow dramatically.
“To just get rid of the current backlog it would probably require the near doubling of immigration judges, but that’s not an easy thing to do,” said Randy Capps, director of research for U.S. programs at the Migration Policy Institute. “First of all you have to have the money, you have to have qualified immigration judges … you have to have more [Immigrations and Customs Enforcement] prosecutors and the detention space to hold people. There’ a lot of resources involved. It’s not something that can be ramped up quickly.”
Trumps executive order on border security addresses some of those needs. It calls for an increase of 5,000 border patrol agents and an unspecified increase in judges within the immigration court system, which is an administrative court formally known as the Executive Office for Immigration Review within the Justice Department.
But there’s one gaping problem. The executive order lacks the authority to allocate money to hire more people to fill those spots. Additionally, another one of Trump’s executive orders expressly forbids new federal hiring — which could mean no new judges can be hired for the immigration courts.
Taken all together, the lack of clarity has immigration court judges worried.
By Miranda Green for Fox4
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