How Broader Immigration Enforcement May Strain an Already Overwhelmed Court System

By Priscilla Alvarez

Immigration courts in the United States are overwhelmed with cases.

By last September, the end of the 2016 fiscal year, there were more than 500,000 of them pending, according to a March report by the Executive Office for Immigration Review, a branch of the U.S. Department of Justice. That number will almost certainly grow under President Trump, whose repeated pledges to curb illegal immigration have translated to policies that would put far more people in the immigration court system.

In February, the Department of Homeland Security issued new rules that broadened the criteria for who is considered a priority for deportation, compared with those set in the Obama administration’s last years. Since then, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, DHS’s enforcement arm, has carried out these directives on the ground, with their arrestees subject to quick deportation or ushered into the courts for processing. In late March, for example, ICE agents arrested 82 individuals during a five-day operation in Virginia and Washington, D.C. Of those individuals, 68 had previous criminal convictions, according to the agency.

The court system would have likely stayed bloated with backlog without the recent rule changes. But by the Trump administration giving ICE greater latitude in which individuals it can target, the courts look poised for even further strain.

What was already a substantial backlog in immigration courts ballooned under former President Barack Obama, after a wave of migrants, including thousands of children traveling alone, journeyed to the southern U.S. border in 2014. That year, Obama, whose first term saw record deportations, pledged to focus enforcement efforts on individuals that posed a threat to security. “Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids. We’ll prioritize, just like law enforcement does every day,” …read more

Via:: The Atlantic


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