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Immigration Backlog Reaches 40 Year High

Immigration Backlog Reaches 40 Year High

Pending immigration cases reached 1.6 million at the end of December, according to a report released January 25 by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. This is the largest immigration backlog in the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) 40 years. The backlog of immigration cases is up from 1.3 million at the end of 2020. The report found that at the start of the administration of President George W. Bush in 2001, the immigration backlog was only 149,338 cases.

• Wait times for an asylum hearing are averaging 58 months, just under 5 years.
• Citizenship application-processing times have increased from an average of nine months in 2019 to 1 year in 2022.
Citizenship application documentation is kept in Federal Records Centers beneath Kansas City. These government storage facilities are miles-long networks of man-made limestone caves that were closed due to Covid-19 and have no scheduled plan to reopen.
• An average green card application is taking 10.5 months to process, an increase of 2 months. Over 200,000 unused green cards were wasted when Congress failed to pass legislation to salvage 2020-2021 green cards that expired due to the pandemic.
• Work permit applications for immigrant spouses were backlogged several years until they were expedited as the result of the settlement of a class-action lawsuit.

Reasons For the Immigration Backlog

1. The immigration process is mainly a manual, pen and paper system, with antiquated technology and limited electronic resources.

2. Many immigration judges retired or left the court system and have not been replaced. There are currently almost 600 immigration judges trying to manage the backlog.

3. The 2-year global Covid pandemic forced many immigration offices and facilities to close and some have not reopened and many are severely understaffed to deal with the backlog.

4. USCIS has faced repeated funding and operational budget shortfalls.

5. Trump-era immigration policies such as Remain in Mexico have resulted in an increase in detentions and court cases, resulting in Homeland Security filing more new cases.

6. Immigration courts fall under the Justice Department, where immigration advocates say cases are not a priority.

DHS Secretary Mayorkas told USAToday that he is “committed to building trust with immigration officials” and “sourcing communities for more effective immigration guidelines.”

Have An Experienced Immigration Lawyer On Your Side

The United State immigration system is confusing and delays can be expensive and stressful. If you are experiencing delays in your immigration case, an experienced immigration attorney who understands the system can help your immigration journey. Godoy Law Office is an established immigration law firm in Chicago and Oak Brook, Illinois, with attorneys who are ready to review your situation and help your immigration case. If you need help with an immigration issue, please contact our office at 630-912-0322.   

Godoy Law Office serves the entire Chicago, Illinois area including DuPage, Cook, Kane, Will, and Lake Counties. 

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