Currently, the United States has a population of over 11 million undocumented immigrants living all over the country, with many more here on visas for work, school or via green cards. Courts nationwide are seeing a backlog of immigration cases, all that require time to ensure these individuals are being granted fair proceedings. Immigrants in California are seeing the effects of slow processing and some wait years before their cases can be heard.
Nationally, only 243 judges are handling immigration cases through the Department of Justice. According to their statistics, they are currently handling over 375,000 cases. Immigrants being held in detention facilities are generally given hearings faster than those who are not and, in either case, it often takes months to years before these cases are resolved. The recent mass influx of immigrant children at the border is likely to increase wait times for court hearings.
Though this information can seem disheartening, it also gives some families knowledge that they will have more time together before having to deal with the possibility of deportation. This also gives them time to get affairs in order that could essentially help their case; hopefully granting them proper documentation to remain in the country. While government officials are contemplating ways to speed up the court process, right now the delays may work in favor of these individuals.
Immigration policy is ever-changing. There is still a long way to go to find a solution to the issues immigrants face in their desire to remain in the country. Immigrants in California may benefit from researching their legal options to ensure they are fully prepared when it is time for their cases to be heard.
Source: themonitor.com, “Backlogged immigration courts face new deluge,” July 12, 2014