Rick Jervis, Alan Gomez, and Gustavo Solis report:
“In San Antonio, an immigration judge breezes through more than 20 juvenile cases a day, warning those in the packed courtroom to show up at their next hearing — or risk deportation.
A Miami immigration lawyer wrestles with new federal rules that could wind up deporting clients who, just a few weeks ago, appeared eligible to stay.
Judges and attorneys in Los Angeles struggle with Mandarin translators and an ever-growing caseload.
Coast to coast, immigration judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys are straining to decipher how the federal immigration rules released in February by the Trump administration will impact the system — amid an already burgeoning backlog of existing cases.
The new guidelines, part of President Trump’s campaign promise to crack down on illegal immigration, give enforcement agents greater rein to deport immigrants without hearings and detain those who entered the country without permission.
But that ambitious policy shift faces a tough hurdle: an immigration court system already juggling more than a half-million cases and ill-equipped to take on thousands more.
“We’re at critical mass,” said Linda Brandmiller, a San Antonio immigration attorney who works with juveniles. “There isn’t an empty courtroom. We don’t have enough judges. You can say you’re going to prosecute more people, but from a practical perspective, how do you make that happen?”
Today, 301 judges hear immigration cases in 58 courts across the United States. The backlogged cases have soared in recent years, from 236,415 in 2010 to 508,036 this year — or nearly 1,700 outstanding cases per judge, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a data research group at Syracuse University.
Some judges and attorneys say it’s too early to see any effects from the new guidelines. Others say they noticed a difference and fear that people with legitimate claims for asylum or visas may be deported along with those who are criminals.
USA TODAY Network sent reporters to several immigration courts across the country to witness how the system is adjusting to the new rules.”
Read the entire article, with reports from the Miami, Los Angeles, and San Antonio U.S. Immigration courts at the above link.
As I mentioned in the previous post, http://wp.me/p8eeJm-IG, one of the ways the Trump Administration apparently plans to deal with the U.S. Immigration Court “bottleneck” is by avoiding the court altogether through expanded use of “Expedited Removal” before DHS officers.
Additionally, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced plans to “streamline” the existing hiring process for U.S. Immigration Judges and to seek an additional 125 Immigration Judges over the next tow years (although those new judgeships would require congressional approval). http://wp.me/p8eeJm-Gp