Photo: AP

Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s clearly well-considered plan to make immigration courts move faster appears to have come back to bite him.

The Justice Department has implemented changes that include limiting the discretion of the nation’s 350 immigration judges in an effort to get courts moving faster. Immigration judges warned that Session’s plans could open up old cases, “backfire and make delays even worse.”


And that’s exactly what’s happening.

According to a new analysis of data by the Transactional Access Records Clearinghouse, a research organization at Syracuse University, the Department of Justice’s “efforts thus far have not had the desired result and appear to have actually lengthened completion times so that these have risen to new all-time highs.”

The number of pending cases in immigration court in the last two decades.
Graphic: TRAC

Immigration courts have always had a backlog, but they seem to be taking even longer now. TRAC points out “the pace of court filings has not increased - indeed, filings are running slightly behind that of last year at this time.” The analysis also found that “[c]ases that ultimately result in a removal order are taking 28 percent longer to process than last year - up from 392 days to an average of 501 days.”


And here’s the report’s finding that’s really going to please Trump: “Compared with the last full fiscal year of the Obama administration, cases resulting in removal take an average of 42% longer.”

Senior staff writer

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