Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests of undocumented immigrants have spiked to such a high level under Donald Trump that the rate of deportations has actually slowed down thanks to a huge backlog of cases, USA Today reported Monday.
Citing stats released by ICE, that paper wrote that the agency arrested almost 14,000 people in June, continuing a steady increase in arrests each month under Trump’s presidency. However, the skyrocketing numbers have slowed down the nation’s immigration courts to such an extent that deportations—one of Trump’s biggest declared goals—hit a new low.
From USA Today:
In the final three months of the Obama administration, the agency averaged 22,705 deportations per month. That number has consistently fallen under Trump, with the agency averaging 16,895 from February through June, reaching its lowest point in June.
ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan recently said the drop in deportations is because of the backlog in federal immigration courts and the lengthy time to process each case.
The paper also noted that the Trump administration has cut back on rules that allowed undocumented people to be free on bond as they await their hearings—meaning that many more people are languishing in detention centers than before.
A report from earlier this year by Syracuse University’s TRAC Immigration project showed that as a result of the backlog, people had to wait an average of 670 days before having their immigration case heard in court.
“Viewing these figures from a different perspective, the existing large backlog and extraordinary wait times mean that some individuals are not scheduled to have their day in court until after President Trump’s current four-year term in office has ended,” the Syracuse researchers explained. “And we are only a little more than 100 days into his four-year term.”
According to TRAC, there are over 610,000 pending cases across the country.
According to a Department of Justice press release from April, the department already added 25 immigration judges this year in hopes of reducing the backlog. The DOJ also said it intends to streamline the hiring process so it can add 50 more immigration judges this year, and 75 more immigration judges next year.