The amount of cases piling up in immigration courts is at an all-time high. There are a total of 375,500 cases in the immigration court system, up from 367,000 in March, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. There were 42,000 children’s cases backlogged in June. The largest portion of those waiting come from countries with high levels of violence—Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador—which could mean some children are eligible for asylum under immigration law.
President Barack Obama has asked Congress for $64 million of his $3.7 billion supplemental funding plan to go directly to immigration courts. If approved, Obama’s plan would fund an extra 40 judges.
Waiting times for hearings have likewise grown, to an average 587 days.
Funding for more judges could help speed up the deportation process, as Obama and Republicans have wanted to do, but that still leaves the problem of who is going to represent the children in court. If a family can’t afford a lawyer, an undocumented child is completely on his own in our court system.
Rebecca Leber is a staff writer for The New Republic.