McALLEN, Texas (Border report) – To help reduce the backlog of 1.3 million pending immigration cases, the House Appropriations Committee approved a funding bill for 100 additional federal immigration judges.
The bill to finance trade, justice, science and related agencies must be approved by the entire House and Senate.
If approved, the overall budget for the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) – which oversees the country’s immigration courts – would be set at $ 891 million in fiscal year 2022. This is an increase of $ 157.2 million from this fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30. The funding increase would allow the hiring of 100 new immigration judges and their staff, said Wednesday U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from South Texas who sits on the committee.
The need for more immigration judges is evident given the growing backlog of cases versus completed cases.
There have been 126,911 new immigration cases added so far in fiscal year 2021, almost double the 68,260 cases that courts have been successful in resolving during that same period. Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a nonprofit that tracks all U.S. immigration cases, reports
Since fiscal 2016, Cuellar has been instrumental in helping to open additional funds for immigration judges to address the growing backlog of cases.
“Right now, judges are responsible for 1.3 million cases. With all the numbers coming in, I will tell you that these numbers will increase. So if we were 1.3 million late, imagine what’s going on now? Cuellar said on a media call from Washington, DC.
Cuellar is vice-chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on House appropriations. From fiscal year 2016-21, he used his filing role to help secure funding for 415 new immigration judges.
As of May 2021, there were 533 immigration judges across the country.
If this latest budget bill is approved, that could bring the national total to over 600 federal immigration judges.
Although Congress appropriated the additional funds, immigration courts have been slow to hire new judges, their staff, and to provide adequate courtroom space for their operations.
Cuellar said he was working with the General Service Administration to ensure there are more offices and courtrooms to accommodate all of these judges. He works
And he stressed the need for more of these offices to be located on the southwest border, where migrants enter the United States.
“We want to keep adding judges to make sure we get to a number so that we can start reducing the number of cases,” he said.