According to the Los Angeles Times, there are more than 445,000 pending court cases in the immigration system. This means that a person can expect to wait years before their case will be heard in this court system. Obviously, for someone with an urgent matter, this is extremely disheartening. While the court is trying to address this backlog by hiring new judges, there is little an immigration attorney can do to move a case much faster.
For immigrants from Central America, the backlog is even more extreme. Cases from Guatemala are up 63%, cases from El Salvador are up 92%, and cases from Honduras are up 143%. There is also a massive backlog of juvenile cases. Many of these are fast track cases involving unaccompanied children. Unfortunately, because there are so many of this unaccompanied children, even the fast track cases are extremely delayed.
All of these conditions are creating a trickle-down effect that is likely to get worse as the years go on. It becomes impossible for the court to catch up, so cases are simply delayed further and further down on the docket. And since there is no appetite in Congress to address these problems and no desire to spend money on judges who can hear these cases and issue rulings, people stuck in this system will simply have to wait.
This problem is more than just a test of patience, it has a severely negative impact on people’s lives. For instance, a family might be unable to work until their case is heard and they are granted asylum. If that takes 4 years or longer, this family is essentially stuck in a holding pattern, forced to rely on the kindness of their community to keep them afloat until they can work legally. It also forces these people to take jobs that often pay little and provide no protections for exploitation. But since working off the books is their only option, they are forced to do whatever they can to make ends meet.
This is extremely frustrating for all immigrants who only want to live and work in the United States legally. Hopefully after the 2016 election, Congress will step up and address these issues that plague the immigration courts and work to give people the speedy due process guaranteed by the Constitution. While this does not appear imminent, changes to immigration can happen quickly, especially after a presidential election.
At Law Group International, we work to make this process as simple as possible. We understand how frustrating it can be for immigrants to wait years before having their day in court and we will do everything possible to keep your cases moving as quickly as it can. We communicate with clients and keep them informed as to how their matter is proceeding, letting our clients know that everything possible is being done to keep their case moving. If you have an immigration matter in Washington DC, Virginia, or anywhere in the United States, contact an immigration lawyer at Law Group International right away.