Immigration Courts Suffer Widening Case Backlog, Despite Increase in Numbers of Judges

A report issued on November 1, 2012 by the Department of Justice's Inspector General has found that the Department's immigration courts have become less productive despite hiring more judges to handle deportation cases. The report found that the number of cases completed by the courts of the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) has decreased since 2006 despite the hiring of 25 additional judges. The EOIR has 59 immigration courts and 238 judges who decide which immigrants should be removed from the United States after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recommends deportation. The report found that the case backlog was primarily due to the courts' focus on processing violent or dangerous illegal immigrants whom the DHS has prioritized for removal in its immigration enforcement efforts. The courts anticipate their caseloads will continue to increase as a result of expanded DHS enforcement actions, according to the report.