Thursday, June 18, 2009

Report Finds Immigration Courts Overwhelmed

Three years ago the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a private service to lawyers on court records, warned that the immigration courts were seriously overburdened. Congress responded by increasing the number of judges by 40, but the Bush administration only added four. There are now 234 judges. A new report by TRAC finds the situation even worse today. In 2008 the courts heard 351,477 cases, with almost half still pending at the end of the year. It also found that the judges had to make do with little staff assistance -- one lawyer clerk to three judges. This overcrowding leads to delays for those challenging deportation or seeking asylum. Often the immigrants are held in detention. (See New York Times article.)

One reason for ineffective action against drug smuggling has been a turf war between the Drug Enforcement Agency and Homeland Security. Now the Obama administration is extending enforcement powers over drug smuggling to ICE. (See New Yoek Times article.)

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