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TRAC: Cases backlogged in nation's immigration courts reach all time high

March 12, 2010

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According to an analysis of very timely court data by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), pending cases backlogged in the nation’s Immigration Courts reached an all time high of 228,421 matters in the first months of fiscal year (FY) 2010. The case backlog was up 23 percent since the end of FY 2008 and 82 percent from 10 years ago. 

TRAC is a data gathering, data research and data distribution organization at Syracuse University. The purpose of TRAC is to provide the American people—and institutions of oversight such as Congress, news organizations, public interest groups, businesses, scholars and lawyers—with comprehensive information about staffing, spending and enforcement activities of the federal government. 

TRAC’s analysis of the data also showed that the average time these pending cases have been waiting in the Immigration Courts of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) inched up to a new high of 439 days. Key to the growing backlogs and wait times is the failure of both the Bush and Obama administrations to fill the judge vacancies on the Immigration Courts, which numbered 48 as of Jan. 12, 2010. The number of vacancies means that one out of six of the judge positions—17 percent of the total—are now unfilled. 

TRAC’s full report and tables on the Immigration Courts can be viewed at

Released also with this special report is TRAC’s Immigration Court Caseload Tool that, for the first time, gives anyone a way to obtain case backlogs and waiting times in each state, court and hearing location. California led the nation as the state with the largest number of cases pending before the immigration courts—59,451 of them—or about one quarter (26 percent) of the national total. New York, with 16 percent of all such matters, ranked second. 

This information is also available by nationality. For the Immigration Court Caseload Tool, visit

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