Backlogs in immigration court have reached a new high of almost 1.6 million cases
A new report from TRAC shows that the immigration court backlog has reached almost 1.6 million cases following a rapid increase in the final quarter of 2021. These backlogs have seen rapid growth for years. The backlog in December 2016 was 516,031 – a growth of over a million cases in just 5 years.
Last year DHS and the DOJ announced a dedicated docket to create “more efficient immigration hearings” with the intention of clearing some of the backlog. Some immigration advocates voiced concerns at the time that this new docket could compromise due process for migrants, and another report from TRAC shows that these concerns could be warranted. Of the completed cases in this dedicated docket, 92% ended in removal and only 16% had attorneys. A mere 6% of these cases ended with the asylum seeker receiving temporary or permanent relief to remain in the U.S. legally.
The Biden administration reaches their 1 year anniversary under scrutiny for a mixed record on immigration
As President Biden celebrated one year in office last week, immigration reporters and advocates shared reviews on his immigration record. The National Immigration Forum takes a look at the results in their paper, One Year In: The Biden Administration’s Treatment of Vulnerable Migrants, finding that while progress has been made in some promised areas, there is critical work yet to be done. Key areas of concern include providing humane treatment for migrants at the southern border, rebuilding and strengthening the refugee resettlement program, and providing needed support to Afghan allies both in the United States and abroad.
In an interview with CBS News, DHS Secretary Mayorkas stated that the administration’s priorities for 2022 include reforms to immigration detention, reducing backlogs, improving asylum systems, and expanding efforts to naturalize permanent residents who are eligible for citizenship.
Remain in Mexico Program continues to expand
According to a DHS spokesperson, the re-instated Migrant Protection Protocols Program, also known as “Remain in Mexico,” was expanded to include the Rio Grande Valley region of the border last week. While no returns had been reported in that region as of Friday, such returns are expected soon and will turn asylum seekers back to a region of Mexico that the State Department advises American citizens to avoid due to the violence in the region.
337 migrants have been returned to Mexico so far under the new implementation of the MPP Program. Reports from December showed that most of those enrolled in the program were from Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba. 91% reported a fear of danger if returned to Mexico, and 22% were removed from the program due to the credibility of their fear claims.