Up to 850,000 Immigration Cases in ‘Limbo’ After Pandemic Shutdown: Study

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Eddie Landry

Immigration Art via Flickr

The partial shutdown of immigration courts during the COVID-19 pandemic may put more than 850,000 individuals in “limbo,” as they wait for huge backlogs to clear, says the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University.

Although exact numbers are impossible to confirm, available data indicates that at least 368,000 individuals awaiting hearings  have been adversely effected by the health crisis delays, TRACT said.

“This does not represent the full scope of the long-term impact of COVID-19 on the Courts,” TRAC added. “Once scheduling delays for the rest of the individuals in the Court’s backlog are taken into account, 850,000 immigrants—or more than three quarters of a million—may well be affected by the shutdown.”

The cancellation of many  final hearings called to decide whether undocumented immigrants initially refused entry can be deported has caused delays across the entire pipeline of the immigration  process. Final hearings for at least 85,000 individuals had been cancelled by the end of May.

“These immigrants will now have to wait many months—if not years—before they have their day in court when their cases finally get resolved,” TRAC said.

At present, there is no word on when immigration courts will resume normal operations.

Download the full TRAC report and tables here.

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