As the Trump administration continues to increase their enforcement of immigration laws, cases languish, numbering more than a half a billion. Thousands of nonviolent undocumented immigrants, including asylum seekers, remain locked in detention centers with their legal status in an uncertain “gray area.”
To date, the average detainee likely waits 677 days for a hearing. In an effort to expedite the process, officials are choosing to go around the court system. Solving the problem takes the form of sending immigrants back to their countries of origin without allowing them a day in court.
During a visit to the US-Mexico border, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the era of “catch and release” is over. The already overtaxed immigration law system would undergo a revamp. The initiative includes an $80 million plan that would add 75 additional teams of judges to increase enforcement of immigration laws, the speed of case processing, and subsequent rate of deportations.
The announcement follows an increase in immigration enforcement officers. More detainees created a court system unable to handle any caseload in a timely fashion. It also creates overworked judges because they lack the requisite number of clerks and the time needed to complete the cases.
Immigration advocates fear that increasing the quantity of the judges will affect the quality of the jurists’ qualifications.
The attorney general also wants to fortify the enforcement that many feel led to the glut in the first place. Sessions wants an additional allocation of $1.5 billion to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency’s budget to allow agents to detain and deport more undocumented immigrants. Another $300 million would pay for 500 new Border Patrol agents and 1,000 new ICE agents.
The new crop of judges may only be the start.