Illegal immigrant children who are released with “notices to appear” will likely remain in the country for three to five years while their cases are resolved in a system that is reportedly on the verge of “implosion.” During this period, many will be able to attend schools and hold jobs.
“We are reaching a point of implosion, if we have not already reached it,” Judge Dana Leigh Marks of San Francisco, who has been deciding immigration cases since 1987, told Reuters.
According to Reuters, “U.S. immigration courts have a backlog of 375,373 cases, almost 50,000 more than they faced two years ago.” Marks, the judge who is also the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, is “one of the 243 judges presiding over 59 immigration courts in the United States,” and she is setting “hearing dates as far off as 2018.” It reportedly “now typically takes three to five years for cases to clear the system.”
The federal government is trying to increase funding and is even attempting to lure some judges out of retirement. Those who are given asylum hearings years down the road “can attend school and have a job.” And the backlog can even benefit some illegal immigrants whose cases are removed from the system. That happened to an illegal immigrant from Peru who came to the country to reunite with his parents. Immigration caseloads are so backlogged that the federal government used its “prosecutorial discretion” to focus on “higher-priority” cases instead of his.
“I wish you an absolutely wonderful life,” the judge told the teen who was now free to remain in the United States.
There have been nearly 60,000 illegal immigrant children who have unlawfully entered the country since October of last year, and federal officials estimate at least 150,000 more will arrive next year. The number of illegal immigrants crossing the border drastically spiked after President Barack Obama unilaterally enacted his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) temporary amnesty program for certain DREAMers in 2012. Murder rates in Central American countries have declined since then.