The leaders of the union representing the nation’s immigration judges said Wednesday that U.S. immigration courts are in chaos, with a backlog of an historic high of 375,000 cases for only 227 judges, a situation that has led to a minimum three-year delay in hearings for illegal immigrants.
Judges Dana Leigh Marks of San Francisco, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, and Denise Noonan Slavin, vice president of the judges’ union, accused the Justice Department of treating immigration courts like “the forgotten stepchild,” says the Washington Examiner.
The judges, who appeared at a National Press Club event, charged the Obama administration is not supplying the immigration courts with funds, support, or defense attorneys that were promised, leading to delays in cases. Slavin said the lack of DOJ funding means “those who are not entitled to be here, linger.”
Both Marks and Slavin said they had not seen any impact from the $2 million Obama had pledged to Americorps to supply legal aid.
The judges said they are feeling pressure to speed up processing the cases of the thousands of illegal unaccompanied minors who have flooded across the U.S. border from Central America. The caseload, they said, is about 1,500 per judge, and cases can take 15 months before the first hearing for an illegal immigrant is held, with the final court session not taking place until three to four years later.