Immigration lawyers are finding themselves in a quandary: They can’t find anyone to help them get an immigration hearing, but they also have a backlog of applications from applicants for legal residency.
This is especially difficult for lawyers who have been on the job for a year or more, as they’ve been tasked with handling applications for a variety of reasons.
The immigration lawyer who spoke with The Verge says the backlog is at least 10 times larger than it was just a few months ago.
“The immigration court backlog is really big, and I’ve been in immigration for a while, so I know what it’s like,” she says.
“But it’s really hard to find people who will help.”
A backlog of immigration cases In October, The New York Times reported that the immigration courts had become backlogged.
“Over the past year, the backlog has ballooned, reaching about 30,000 cases, according to an immigration court official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the court does not release records to the media,” the Times reported.
Immigration court officials, however, have denied the report.
“It’s false and inaccurate,” said an official at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
“This is simply an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of our court system.”
And it’s not just the courts that are facing a backlog: The Department of Homeland Security is also struggling with a similar issue.
A DHS official told the Times that “there is a significant backlog of people applying for visas,” and that “a number of federal agencies are working to address this issue.”
It’s hard to tell exactly how many people are applying for a visa, but in the last week alone, immigration judges have denied more than 60,000 applications.
In April, DHS officials admitted that the backlog had reached “record highs” and promised that they would address it.
But since then, there have been no official updates.
“As we’ve continued to grow, we’ve also seen the number of cases that have been denied rise,” the official said.
“There are more people than we anticipated coming into the system.”
The official also said that DHS has been trying to improve the system by providing better tools for immigration judges to prioritize immigration cases.
“We’re continuing to improve and make improvements to our processes,” the agency said in a statement.
The DHS official said that the government was also looking to expand the pool of people who are eligible for legal permanent residency, which would help immigrants who can’t get a hearing in their current immigration case.