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Immigration court backlogs increase 85% over five years

Published: Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013 10:26 a.m. CDT

LOS ANGELES (MCT) - Immigration court backlogs have increased 85 percent over the last five years, with wait times also increasing to an average of 562 days, according to federal data compiled by Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

At 686 days, California has the second-longest wait time. Nebraska has the longest wait time, at 761 days.

The national increase in pending immigration court cases, from 186,108 in 2008 to 344,230 in fiscal year 2013, is largely due to an increase in deportations under the Obama administration, said Crystal Williams, executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Deportations have gone up from 291,060 in 2007 to 409,849 in fiscal year 2012.

At the same time, due to hiring freezes, the number of immigration judges has decreased from 272 to 253, said Kathryn Mattingly, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice's Executive Office for Immigration Review.

"One thing all sides of all the coin agree on is, it's a mess," Williams said. "And everyone who's working in the system agrees."

(c)2013 Los Angeles Times Distributed by MCT Information Services

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