March 15, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Court backlogs threaten efficiency of the immigration system
Article provided by Law Offices of Garcia, Ramirez, and Pina
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Recent news about the U.S. immigration courts may be cause for concern, both from a taxpayer standpoint and from the perspective of foreign nationals awaiting their day in court. According to a report issued by the Justice Department's inspector general, cases handled by U.S. immigration courts relating to deportation of undocumented immigrants are deeply flawed. Judges are finding it difficult to keep pace as caseloads continue to increase and dockets become increasingly backlogged.
The findings of the report
The report was based on 1,785 immigration removal cases in 2009 from eight sample states across the country, including Washington, Texas, California and New York. It uncovered delays in processing of immigration cases, particularly those cases dealing with detained and non-detained immigrants. Of the cases surveyed in the report, more than half had been granted continuances, or prolonging of the proceedings. Averaging four continuances of up to three months each, many of these cases were delayed by a year or more. The statistics are surprising, considering the fact that 27 new judges had been appointed over the period studied in the report, though a five percent increase in cases may have operated to offset this increase in judicial resources.
The root of the problem
A particularly troubling aspect of the report is the inaccuracy of the immigration system's own self-evaluation efforts. Inspector General Michael Horowitz noted in his report that performance reports are "incomplete and overstate actual accomplishments," and that immigration court documents and performance reports are so inaccurate that understanding the root of the problem remains a difficult and unresolved problem. For example, the report found inaccuracies in reporting of the disposition of immigration cases, specifically situations where judges reported a case to be completed when in fact it was transferred to another court for decision, resulting in inaccuracies when it came to determining actual case completions.
The Justice Department inspector general made nine recommendations for the Executive Office for Immigration Review to streamline the judicial review process and increase the efficiency of the immigration system. Such recommendations included the development of judicial guidelines regarding the granting of continuances, reporting requirements for tracking cases and more effective resource allocation, improvement of data collection and distinguishing case transfers from completions in order to more accurately reflect case completion and court efficiency. However, there is no guarantee that these improvements will take place any time soon.
Get assistance from an immigration expert
If you are a foreign national seeking to obtain a visa -- whether you find yourself caught in a courtroom backlog or not -- you should consult an experienced immigration attorney who can help you steer through the challenges of the immigration system.---
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