Immigration Case Backlog Reaches Historic Highs

As of January 2023, a steadily growing backlog of more than 11 million immigration cases exists between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This staggering number of cases is divided between U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within DHS and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), or the immigration courts, which fall under the purview of the DOJ.

The Migration Policy Institute reported that as of early 2022, the immigration court case backlog rose to 1.6 million cases from 1.1 million cases before the pandemic. Meanwhile, the USCIS backlog reached 9.5 million, a significant increase from 5.7 million at the end of 2019.

Furthermore, estimates of federal data by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University suggest that 1.6 million migrants remain waiting for asylum, with about half waiting for interviews with asylum officers and half waiting for hearings in immigration court with administrative law judges. Immigration courts alone have seen their asylum cases increase over seven-fold from 2012, when they had about 100,000 cases pending. In the first two months of fiscal year 2023, the asylum backlog in the courts jumped by about 30,000 cases to roughly 787,882 cases. By December 2022, that number had risen beyond 800,000, which is higher than ever before in history. If the current pace continues, the backlog will reach record levels in 2023.

Generally, asylum seekers come from 219 countries, with Guatemala, Venezuela, Cuba, and Brazil being the most common countries of origin. Three out of ten asylum seekers are children under the age of 18. In recent weeks, the surge of migrants at the border has dropped from about 2,500 per day to between 1,500 and 1,600 per day.

The average wait time for an asylum hearing is 4.3 years, but the longest wait time, which is in the Omaha, Nebraska immigration courts, is 5.9 years. As a practical matter, only a small percentage (0.3%) of those awaiting asylum hearings are detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), or about 29,000 people. To detain all asylum seekers, the U.S. would need 54 times its current detention level.

Contact Us Today for Legal Assistance with Your Immigration Case

Bashyam Global limits its practice solely to immigration matters. This focus allows us to concentrate on keeping abreast of the ever-changing immigration law and policy world. We represent your interests, no matter whether you need help with getting an employment-based visa, bringing a loved one to the U.S., or defending against deportation. So call us today at (919) 833-0840 and see what we can do for you.

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