President Obama is seeking to fast-track deportations of unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America who cross into the U.S., but minors end up in an overburdened legal system where cases often take 18 months or more to resolve, NPR reports. More than 52,000 have been caught in South Texas since October, and hundreds more arrive daily, overwhelming Border Patrol stations and overflowing temporary shelters.
According to data from Syracuse University, as of March, there were nearly 370,000 cases creeping through U.S. immigration courts. In the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, agents continue to apprehend about 800 non-Mexican immigrants a day. The great majority of them will be fed into that beleaguered court system. Kathleen Walker, past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, is pessimistic. “You have an overburdened system faced with an additional influx of very urgent cases, especially those involving unaccompanied minors, of course. And so it’s just going to be worse than it ever has been,” she says.