Immigration Court Backlog Explodes to a Record 3 Million, Judges Average 4,500 Cases

Besides crushing records for letting unparalleled amounts of illegal immigrants into the U.S., the Biden administration’s catastrophic open border policies are slamming the nation’s Immigration Court System with an unimaginable backlog not seen under any president. In November, the Immigration Court backlog exceeded 3 million pending cases, a shocking increase of around a million during a period of just 12 months. A new report issued this week by the nonpartisan Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University provides the ghastly figures taken straight from the government.

“Immigration Judges are swamped,” the report states, revealing that they average an inconceivable 4,500 pending cases each. “If every person with a pending immigration case were gathered together, it would be larger than the population of Chicago, the third largest city in the United States,” TRAC researchers write. “Indeed, the number of waiting immigrants in the Court’s backlog is now larger than the population found in many states.” The university data analysts found that previous administrations also failed to tackle the Immigration Court backlog but point out that this is in a class of its own because the “accelerating growth in the Court’s backlog has transformed the problem into an even more daunting challenge.”

During just the last quarter of fiscal year 2023—which runs from July to September—the backlog spiked by a remarkable 400,000 cases marking an average increase of 130,000 cases per month. Fiscal year 2024 started off with a bang as well with an even higher average of 140,000 cases a month during the first quarter of October to November, according to government figures provided in the document. As a point of comparison, at the end of Obama’s presidency the backlog stood at 516,031, which is around one-sixth of what it is now. At the time 278 immigration judges had an annual caseload of 1,850 and they completed an average of around 750 cases each year, TRAC reveals. Under Trump the number of judges grew to 484 and they had an average caseload of about 2,600 each.

Even though the Biden administration hired many more judges the U.S. Immigration Court system, which operates under the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), cannot possibly keep up. There are currently 682 immigration judges, according to figures provided in the EOIR’s latest personnel records, and each judge closed an average of about 975 cases during the latest fiscal year. “This is a closure rate nearly a third greater than seven years ago during the final year of the Obama administration,” the TRAC report states. “Even so, more judges and higher case closures per judge have still not been able to keep pace with the flow of incoming cases. Thus, average caseloads of the 682 judges now on the bench have jumped to 4,500 per judge.”

The crisis began almost immediately after Biden became president thanks to his disastrous open border policies. By the end of his first year in office, illegal immigration was a huge problem and the overwhelmed U.S. Immigration Court system suffered through the largest backlog of cases in history up until that point. At the time it was a then-shocking 1,596,193 cases and few imagined it would skyrocket to the current figures. The COVID-19 pandemic played a role because it caused a partial court shutdown, but the main culprit was an avalanche of new cases filed by the Biden Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Now the deluge is so bad that some illegal immigrants seeking asylum may wait a decade before getting a court date thanks to Biden’s catch-and-release policy that allows migrants to live in the U.S. while they wait to see a judge.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Judicial Watch column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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