The average time for U.S. judges to resolve an immigration case is about four years in New Jersey and other states. Judges across the country are fast-tracking immigrant cases to get rid of the immense backlog that numbers 1.4 million. Migrants can stay in the country for years before their case is heard.
Changes to the established docket
The Biden Administration created a dedicated docket for families seeking asylum because immigration at the border can’t get under control without handling the backlogged cases first. A judge is listening to dozens of families a day to fast-track cases; his goal is to rule on the backlogged cases within 300 days. The court is reportedly sending migrants to the head of the line to stop more people from entering the country.
New judge workload
There are 530 immigration judges in the U.S., but only about 35 immigration judges use the new docket. Many judges stack the extra cases on top of their current workload. The judges are already handling 16,000 cases, and hundreds already have at least a partial decision. However, the government was hoping the numbers would make a bigger dent.
Challenges of the expedited docket
Judges are doing their best to see as many immigration cases as possible, but challenges are appearing. Biden’s efforts to fast-track immigration cases are seeing the same issues as the Obama and Trump Administrations. Building an asylum case is complex and takes time, but the new docket makes it harder for migrants to secure an attorney in time. Under the Obama and Trump Administrations, most families didn’t have legal representation.
Many migrants try to get low-cost or free attorneys from the government website but can’t get an answer. In addition, courts often use ankle monitors to track migrants and sometimes confine them to their homes, so issues arise when migrants lose their job because they can’t leave their homes. Most families in the thousands of migrant cases don’t have legal representation, so the Justice Department must correct that.