After February’s release of the new federal immigration rules by the Trump administration, immigration judges, prosecutors, and defense attorney’s all over the country continue to wonder how the system will be impacted with the already existing backlog of cases. In an effort to crack down on illegal immigration and detain those entering the country without permission, President Trump introduced the new federal immigration rules as one of his first orders of business in office but amidst the new guidelines, many are wondering how the immigration court system will be able to juggle an influx of more cases when they are already ill-equipped in handling those that are currently piling up.
With courtrooms over-run, a shortage of judges, and mounting waitlists, many are questioning the practicality of the new rules that will largely increase the pool of undocumented immigrants being considered for deportation and thus, result in the prosecution of even more immigrants. According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a data research group at Syracuse University, the backlogged cases have rapidly increased over the past few years from 236,415 in 2010 to 508,036 in 2017 with nearly 1,700 outstanding cases per judge and are likely to skyrocket with the new directives.
As the system adjusts to the new rules, mounting fears of people with genuine claims of asylum or legitimate visas being deported along with those who are actually criminals begin to run high. Under the Obama administration the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not push to deport undocumented immigrants without a criminal record but now, many of those who were previously considered “safe” are now at risk. Currently, DHS says their attorneys can still practice discretion on a case-by-case basis but under Trumps executive order signed back in January, this can only be done so “with extremely limited exceptions”. As an immediate result, deportation is reportedly up for discussion in nearly every case involving undocumented immigrants under the ambitious new policy.
With the recently introduced federal immigration rules still in their early stages, it’s difficult to tell just how detrimental the affects will be to the immigration court systems over time however, there is no hiding the fear that has been instilled and the pressure that has begun to build in just the first few months since the executive order was signed.