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First, the GAO found that new case receipts at immigration courts have remained relatively steady over the sampled years. Interestingly, the number of new case receipts has been gradually declining since From FY , the new case receipts ranged from about , to , annually. There has been a slow but gradual increase in other case receipts e.
However, in this period from FY to FY , the case backlog has increased dramatically. The GAO found that the total case backlog was about , in FY , and it dipped slightly under that at its lowest point in the sample in FY However, since , the case backlog has increased each year. At the beginning of FY , the case backlog stood at a staggering , cases, more than double the backlogs in FY , , , and This has led to a marked increase in case processing times. In FY , the median processing time for backlogged cases was days.
This hit a low point in the sample for FY and , when it stood at 28 and 29 days, respectively. However, beginning in FY , the overall number of days for initial case completion rose sharply. Interestingly, the increase has not been uniform by case type. For example, the median wait time for asylum only proceedings has been over a year for all but three years in the sample. The most substantial increase in median wait times has been in regular removal proceedings, which track very closely with the number for all cases.
Similarly to the average time for all case times, the median days required for regular removal proceeding cases was no more than 65 for any year through FY Then, from FY to FY , the numbers were , , , and , respectively. One reason it noted was the surge of cases arising from migrants crossing the Southwest Border beginning in FY In FY , it was only days. The first two recommendations had to do with implementing new methods for properly hiring staff at the EOIR and creating a new hiring strategy for immigration judges.
The third and fourth recommendations dealt with creating oversight to help the EOIR meet cost and schedule expectations. Furthermore, the EOIR did not state whether it agrees with individual recommendations. EOIR provided comments on recommendations Regarding the first three recommendations, GAO believed that the EOIR was taking steps to address them but still had work to do in all three areas.
Courts of Appeals have upheld the use of video teleconferencing in proceedings, but that it was nevertheless open to collecting more data. However, the EOIR did not agree with the recommendation that it solicit feedback from respondents in video teleconference hearings.
Most of these regard aspects of the report not discussed in this article. However, there is one point we addressed in detail. This is especially true with regard to the dramatically increasing wait times for adjudication of regular removal cases.
The problems faced by the immigration courts are complicated, and there is no single solution to gradually decreasing the wait times. The GAO report is a valuable contribution to the discussion, and even if the EOIR disagrees with some of its methodology and solutions, there is still much to be gleaned from carefully studying its findings and recommendations.
Because the GAO report is pages, we were only able to cover it in brief on site. We focused on information that may be of interest to stakeholders and laymen alike. Picture: Log in to post comments Have a Question? Ask a Question Want to schedule a consultation? We offer a 15 minute free consultation for asylum seekers only.
Stewart Immigration Court
The Office of Personnel Management publishes a list of the observed dates of every federal holiday by year online at this link: OPM holidays. Additionally, the court may have to unexpectedly close due to inclement weather or another emergency. More information is available at the following link: eRegistry Notice Stewart. Legal Self-Help Center: The EOIR, Office of Legal Access Programs has created numerous self-help materials with many helpful resources for respondents, including information on what to do if respondents have moved or missed a hearing. Notarios: EOIR warns respondents about immigration fraud perpetrated by notarios who claim to provide legal assistance but are unable to represent respondents in immigration court, provide legal services, or give legal advice.
GAO Report on Case Backlogs in Immigration Courts