Immigration judges across the country are preparing for an overwhelmed court docket, following the expected end of Title 42.
In early 2020, then-President Donald Trump invoked Title 42, a law that has been used to deport illegal immigrants, citing the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of the end of December 2022, immigration courts in the United States have a backlog of more than 1.5 million cases. Add the end of Title 42 into the mix and that number will increase almost immediately.
Fox News spoke with a former immigration judge who says his colleagues on the bench have been furious over how the system is already overwhelmed before Title 42 ends. The backlog continues to grow by the hour.
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“It could be eight years. It could be 10 years, if we don’t think outside the box,” retired immigration Judge Bruce Einhorn told Fox News. Einhorn spent 17 years hearing tens of thousands of immigration cases across the country.
Immigration courts are not part of the judiciary, but rather, the executive branch of the government. Einhorn said his former colleagues have been overwhelmed and understaffed. Unlike other judges, immigration judges do not control their own docket, as they fall under the umbrella of the U.S. Justice Department.
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“They are overworked, and they often suffer the strains of I would even say post-traumatic stress syndrome,” Einhorn said.
The backlog includes cases from 200 countries around the globe, but the border influx creates the majority of new cases. There are around 600 immigration judges in the United States.
Einhorn said that number needs to increase, and soon.
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“We need to get a handle on what cases should be heard first, second and third. We can’t pretend, with a six-year backlog in most jurisdictions, that we can handle all of the cases equally.”
Einhorn said cases must be prioritized, by asylum hearings, criminal hearings, and finally, those who don’t fit into the first two categories.