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A Staggering Backlog of Immigration Cases Is Bringing the System to Its Breaking Point

gavel3.jpgWith the backlog of immigration cases increasing in number every month, judges in America’s immigration court rooms are finding that the time they have to make a decision about each case is diminishing. Every day in the United States, families pack themselves into courtrooms to have their cases heard and to find out if they will be allowed to remain in the country or will be forced to leave and return to their native land. One judge in particular, Judge Lawrence Burnham, sat at his seat in Arlington Immigration Court with 26 cases to hear before the lunch break. Immigration attorney have dubbed this type of in-and-out hurry-up judicial proceedings as “the rocket docket” and they have been forced to make it known to their clients that the decision regarding whether or not they and their families will be allowed to remain in the U.S. could be made in a matter of single-digit minutes.

Barack Obama and the members of Congress have made significant progress on immigration reform over the past several months, largely due to the eye-popping numbers that make the case for reform – numbers like 11.7 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., 50,000 illegals per month attempting to come into the country, 21,000 border patrol agents on duty, 1,000 deportations per day, and a staggering $18 billion going toward enforcement of current immigration laws.

There are 57 immigration courts in the United States and every day each of them is filled to capacity with foreign nationals waiting to hear what is likely the most important and influential decision they will ever hear made about their lives and the lives of their families. These individuals go to great lengths to make an emotional case for their being allowed to remain in the country by bringing family photo albums, wrapping their young children in American flag blankets, and bringing neighbors, friends, and acquaintances along to provide emotional support and to pray.

The system is so backlogged, in fact, and such a lack of resources devoted to the process that many detained immigrants are not able to attend their own hearings in person and must do so remotely by live video feed. The cases themselves are incredibly stressful for the judges hearing them as well. These are cases of human suffering, despite what anyone may think about the overall issue of immigration. Asylum cases which give hard-to-hear accounts of rapes, beheadings, human trafficking, and other horrendous crimes and are followed by the need for a judge to make a decision about a person who has just endured these kinds of brutalities to determine whether or not that person and his or her family will be allowed to remain in the country.

Nevertheless, the judges who hear these cases are required to be as impartial as they possibly can while still remaining empathetic to the human element involved. The emotional balancing act is challenging at best and near impossible at worst and it is not uncommon for some judges to crack under the pressure.

If you or anyone you know is in need of legal counsel regarding an immigration issue, please visit the Austin immigration lawyer at Lyttle Law Firm on their website, or contact their offices in Austin, Texas at 512-215-5225.