In our last post, we talked about how there is a huge backlog for immigration cases. Financial resources are being prioritized in areas of enforcement, as opposed to the immigration court system. The amount of cases in backlog is staggering, and new case work keeps coming in — to the tune of roughly 200,000 cases per year. Given the casework of a typical judge, stress and burning out are two very serious issues for immigration judges.
In addition the actual number of cases judges have to deal with, the emotional weight of each of these cases — let alone the collective emotional weight of all of them — is too much for some judges to handle. Looking at young people, or kids, or even adults who appear to be good people but simply don’t have the right paperwork or qualifications, and telling them “no” can be heartbreaking.
For all of these reasons, it is not particularly shocking to learn that a lot of immigration judges are choosing to retire — and a large chunk of the current crop of immigration judges is eligible to retire at the end of this fiscal year (September 30).
What does all of this mean for the immigration system in general? And is anything being done to help not just the system, but the people who are immigrating to this country too? We’ll address those question in our final part of this series on the immigration backlog problem.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “As immigration judges’ working conditions worsen, more may choose retirement,” Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Aug. 18, 2015