Despite Trump Administration's Attempt to Cut Backlogs, Immigration Courts Caseloads Are Growing

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The Trump administration's plan to slash the backlog of immigration cases by pressuring judges to hear more cases has had the opposite effect, according to new data.

The average wait for an immigration hearing is now more than two years, according to a Los Angeles Times review of Syracuse University’s Transactional Access Records Clearinghouse, which follows data from immigration courts.

Since the Justice Department approved a plan in October 2017 to winnow down immigration court backlogs, the pending caseload has expanded by 26 percent, growing from 655,932 cases to around 830,000, according to clearinghouse data.

The San Antonio court currently has 27,400 pending cases, according to Syracuse's numbers. Houston is the only Texas court with a higher number of cases waiting to be heard.

And the university's data still understates the backlog, because it doesn't include the results of the recent 35-day government shutdown. Around 60,000 hearings were canceled while the nation's 400 immigration judges were off work.

The administration “has not only failed to reduce the backlog, but has eroded the court’s ability to ensure due process” by pressuring judges to rule “at a breakneck pace," the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said in a statement supplied to the Los Angeles Times.

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