Straining under the Backlog: Fixing a U.S. Immigration Court System in Crisis
Jojo Annobil, Executive Director, Immigrant Justice Corps
Muzaffar Chishti, MPI Senior Fellow and Director, MPI office at NYU School of Law
David L. Neal, Director, Executive Office for Immigration Review, U.S. Justice Department
Blas Nuñez-Neto, Assistant Secretary for Border and Immigration Policy and Acting Assistant Secretary for International Affairs, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow and Director, U.S. Immigration Policy Program, MPI
The U.S. immigration court system is struggling with backlogs that have swelled to a record 1.9 million cases—with more than 700,000 added last year alone. The result is that cases, more than 40 percent of which are claims for asylum, take years to adjudicate—depriving people eligible for relief of decisions, undermining the effectiveness of immigration enforcement, and incentivizing unauthorized arrivals.
What factors have brought the court system to the breaking point? What technological and other changes are being implemented to improve the judicial process? And, recognizing that Congress is unlikely to overhaul the immigration courts any time soon, what steps can be taken administratively to strengthen the system?
This conversation marks the launch of a major report examining the status of the court system, the factors that have driven it to a state of crisis, and recommendations that would enable the courts to more reliably deliver decisions that are both timely and fair.