Stories about the influx of unaccompanied minors from Mexico and Central America into the United States have all but disappeared from the news. After dedicating “historic levels of personnel, technology, and resources to the Southwest border,” the White House reported last month that the border was “more secure than it has been in decades,” and that a sharp decrease in unaccompanied minors attempting to cross the border was recorded in July and August.
But the crisis is still causing havoc. The backlog of cases in immigration courts is the biggest it has been in 20 years and has been growing steadily since 2000 (including an uptick after the increased allocation of resources for border protection).
“Policies aimed at enforcing the removal of these immigrants have been funded to the tune of billions and billions of dollars,” said Vanessa Allyn, the managing attorney for refugee representation at Human Rights First. “But the courts haven’t been equally funded. There’s absolutely no parity in the resources for removal versus the resources for actually adjudicating these cases.”
There are 260 immigration judges in the United States, and each judge decides about 1,500 cases per year, Allyn said. But even at that rate, the judges can’t keep up with the number of cases.