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Immigration judges behind on caseload

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) – The government is not keeping up with the caseload in federal immigration courts, even with an increase in the number of judges handling the cases, the Justice Department inspector general reported Thursday.

In a report, Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said record-keeping by the immigration courts is so flawed that it is difficult to draw conclusions about why the courts are unable to reduce the volume of cases.

From 2006 to 2010, the number of new immigration cases rose from 308,652 to 325,326. At the same time, the number of proceedings the immigration courts completed declined about 11 percent, from 324,040 in 2006 to 287,207 in 2010.

During that period, the government added 27 more immigration judges, boosting the total to 238. Seventeen of the judges were hired during 2010. In a footnote, the report said new judges undergo extensive training and may not have the performance level of more experienced judges.

In an analysis for Aug. 3, 2010, the IG found that 47,819 removal proceedings had been pending three years or more. Most of the cases pending for over three years involved illegal immigrants who were not detained and who had filed challenges seeking to remain in the United States.

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