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Report: Immigration backlog now at over 500,000 cases

Earlier this week, the Department of Justice's Executive Office for Immigration Review, whose immigration courts handle everything from removals to administrative hearings and appellate reviews, released a rather shocking report outlining how its backlog of cases has grown to staggering levels in recent years.

The report indicates that as of July 2016, there are 500,051 immigration cases pending in the immigration courts across the nation and a mere 277 judges to hear these cases.

According to the authors, the exceptionally crowded docket, which grew by over 200,000 cases in 2011 alone, can be attributed to the recent influx of unaccompanied minors and families from Central America who have entered the country without permission in a bid to escape escalating violence and staggering poverty.

Indeed, statistics show that since the beginning of the budget year in October, over 51,000 people traveling as familial units and over 43,000 unaccompanied minors have been apprehended crossing the border.

Reports indicate that this reality has forced immigration courts to make these deportation cases a priority, perhaps to the consternation of other immigrants who may now find themselves having to wait years for final decisions in their cases, and, many of whom, are in something of a race against the clock.

As discouraging as all of this is, the good news is that officials with the EOIR have indicated that thanks to a "robust hiring initiative," 34 new immigration judges have recently been added to the bench, while another 100 are in the process of being hired.  

Here's hoping that this hiring initiative helps alleviate the backlog, such that people are getting a chance to share their story in court sooner than later.

Those with questions about the removal process or other pressing immigration matters should seriously consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can answer their questions, examine their unique situation and fight to protect their rights.  

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