Backlogged immigration courts place justice at risk

When foreign nationals in Louisiana face the threat of deportation or are seeking asylum in the U.S., they must go through the immigration courts. Immigration courts are different from criminal and civil courts in the U.S., and only those judges appointed by the president may decide these cases. However, the incredible number of cases waiting for their day in immigration court has created a backlog that some believe will never be resolved without immediate reforms to the system. 

A variety of factors have contributed to the overwhelming number of cases waiting for their days in court. For example, the recent worldwide health scare that caused businesses and government offices to close for months left many watching their court dates pass with no resolution. Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security continues to introduce new cases into the system at a record pace. Those with cases pending who might have waited months for a hearing are now waiting years with little relief in sight. 

A broken system 

Despite the fact that that President Biden appointed 12 new judges to the immigration courts, more than 1.3 million cases remain in limbo. So far this year, with six months remaining, 126,911 new cases have been added, but judges have only adjudicated a little more than 68,000. The state with the highest number of pending cases in immigration court has more than 213,000 waiting for their cases to be heard. 

Those seeking asylum or hoping for a positive resolution for their cases likely feel frustrated by the long wait and uncertain about their futures. Since the rules and rights in immigration court are quite different from other courts, they may fear they will not receive a just hearing. When judges are pressured by the backlog of cases, it may be difficult to give each case the fair review it deserves.