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The number of people with pending deportation cases in the U.S. rose a staggering 85 percent over the last five years, according to data released on Friday by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University.

In the last year alone, the case backlog went up 5.9 percent.

Check out this graph from TRAC:


The majority of the pending cases are in five states with more sizable immigrant populations: California, New York, Texas, Florida and Illinois. Of the 344,230 pending immigration cases, 214,121 are in those states, according to TRAC.

Wait times are also lengthening. The average wait time for immigration cases went from 430 days in the 2009 fiscal year to 562 days in 2013.


The figures from TRAC represent people arguing their immigration case in a federal court.

Overall, there are more than 4.7 million immigrants who have applied to come to the U.S. legally, and the road to become a permanent resident can take decades.


Meanwhile, the chances of Congress passing an immigration reform bill this year appear slim.

A bill that passed in the Senate in June aimed to clear the immigration backlog in 10 years or less.


But that legislation was declared dead-on-arrival in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, and the House hasn’t put forward any comparable measure of its own.

Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.

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