Immigration Courts Prepare for Asylum Seekers Amidst Backlog

A few weeks ago, Attorney General Merrick Garland reversed Trump-era policies that limited protections for migrants seeking asylum. The major decision could positively affect thousands of asylum seekers who are fleeing domestic violence, political or religious violence, or gang violence—all of whom faced shrinking protections due to Trump policies. Immigration lawyers hope the decision could reverse years of obstacles faced by asylum seekers.

This is a positive change, and The Law Offices of Lloyd E. Bennett Esq., P.C. is in full support of increasing support and protections for people seeking asylum in the U.S.

However, that reversal will have limited impact if there isn’t an equally bold effort to process the enormous immigration court backlog weighing down the system. At least 1.3 million cases nationwide are stuck in the immigration process, as we’ve reported before.

The decision from AG Garland will help judges make clearer and easier rulings on asylum cases, which will at least alleviate some of the backlog. Part of the reason for the pile-up of cases is that Trump policies required deep delving into every case’s individual situation, rather than allowing greater discretion about which cases required investigation. This decision mirrors the recent DHS memo that reinstated prosecutorial discretion for ICE prosecutors.

Courts Reopening with New Policies

With measures in place to allow faster case processing, the backlog is at least more likely to be cleared. Unfortunately, the complexity of adding policy reversals on top of reopening efforts only adds to the difficulties faced by immigration judges. Another difficulty is a shortage of judges that are keeping some officials from being able to retire.

The permanent solution to the immigration backlog will include rebuilding the nationwide roster of immigration judges and continuing to allow them to process cases at an appropriate pace on a case-by-case basis. It will also include returning the USCIS to its roots as a service-providing agency, not an enforcement agency.

For questions about your asylum case, speak with our New Jersey asylum lawyers for a confidential consultation. Let us help you build a safe, stable life.