The nation’s immigration-court backlog swelled by more than a million cases in 2023, rising from 1.9 million cases in September 2022 to surpass 3 million cases in November, Lauren Villagran reports for USA Today. There are now more immigrants in the U.S. with a pending immigration case than people living in Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city, with judges grappling with caseloads of more than 4,000 each. There were 734 immigration judges on the bench in October, up from 517 in 2020, but the courts have still been unable to keep pace with the number of cases being added to the docket.
The Biden administration has tried to address the backlog by hiring 302 immigration judges to the nation’s immigration courts and is asking in its 2024 budget request for funding to hire 150 more. U.S. Customs and Border Protection recorded nearly 2.5 million migrant encounters at the Southwest border in fiscal 2023 – breaking annual records going back to 1960. In October and November, the first two months of fiscal 2024, CBP reported more than 483,000 migrant encounters amid historically high levels of mass migration through the Western Hemisphere. Syracuse University’s Transaction Records Access Clearinghouse found that immigration judges granted asylum or other immigration relief in 13 percent of cases in the last 25 years.