How the Immigration Court System Works

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

by Daniel Nardini

Those anti-immigrant and anti-refugee groups who are protesting and even threatening the poor unfortunate children and women from Central America are calling for their “quick deportation.” Besides finding their actions disgusting, in my view these extreme right wing loony groups do not understand how our immigration court system works. The first lesson about the U.S. immigration court system is that it works on a case-by-case basis. This is a safeguard to protect the rights of those who go before it. By this measure, there cannot be a rushed decision.

There are 59 U.S. immigration courts throughout the United States. The average case takes 19 months to decide. This means that for whatever reason an immigration case could take a year and a half to even two years to decide. Since October of last year, the number of immigration cases has jumped seven percent, and this increase does not include the number of those refugees coming from Central America. In 2013, the immigration courts deported two-thirds of those cases it had decided, and granted refugee status to 17 percent of those who came to this country. Hence, the chances are that all those children, men and women coming from Central America now will most likely not receive refugee status. Unless there are extraordinary circumstances taken, the chances are that the U.S. immigration court system will deport a good number of those fleeing to the United States now.

The top five countries with the most caseload number of immigrants decided by the U.S. immigration courts in 2013 are Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and China. And as most people may have guessed, the states with the most immigrant caseloads are California, New York and Texas (the states with the most number of immigrants entering). Whatever can be said about the United States, we are a nation of laws. No matter what the extreme right wing groups may say and want, we have a legal system that protects the rights of those whose cases are being presented. To do anything less would be to give way to mob rule, xenophobia and extremist measures that would make this country less than humane.

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