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Immigration cases delayed as courts face huge backlogs

When immigrants who come to live in Riverside County get caught up in the legal system, they must appear before a judge who will determine their ability to remain in the country. The Trump administration has made immigration enforcement a top priority, which will likely result in even more cases ending up in the court system.

However, there is one huge problem with this. According to CNN, the immigration courts are experienced a severe backlog. As of February 2017, there were 542,411 cases pending in the system before the nation’s 58 immigration courts. There are currently 312 immigration judges and it was recently announced that more would be added in an effort to clear out some of the backlog. With the rate at which the government is arresting and detaining immigrations who do not possess the proper paperwork, it is unclear how much of a difference adding additional judges will actually make.

California is facing 34,221 backlogged cases, reports USA Today. While the policy of the previous administration relied greatly on the concept of prosecutorial discretion, the new administration’s emphasis on enforcement means that deportation is on the table for nearly everyone who appears. When prosecutorial discretion was applied, many people without criminal backgrounds were granted relief.

Beside the sheer number of cases, there are other factors that are contributing to the backlog. Finding and employing translators is difficult and time consuming. In addition, many defendants either do not have lawyers or are too frightened to show up in court out of fear of being detained. 

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