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Time is running out for the scheduled end of the Title 42 pandemic border restrictions — which is expected to add to an already growing backlog of cases in immigration court.
The COVID-19-era health measure used to deport migrants crossing the border illegally is set to expire on May 23.
However, the backlog of cases has soared to more than 1.7 million, according to Syracuse University’s TRAC.
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This backlog has seen some migrants wait five years for a court hearing. The 1.7 million figure is not strictly border-bound and includes migrants from more than 200 countries.
Retired immigration judge Denise Slavin served for 24 years.
“My biggest fear with the end of title 42 is that they are going to do the same thing. They are going to ask the judges to stop dealing with cases that are ready to be heard and concluded and move them to title cases. 42 that are new and so they won’t be ready. You’re just spinning your wheels and wasting time,” Slavin told Fox News.
Immigration courts are not part of the independent judiciary, but rather part of the executive branch of the Department of Justice. Slavin told Fox News his former colleagues were overwhelmed and understaffed. Unlike other judges, immigration judges do not control their own roles.
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“It’s very frustrating because as a judge it puts pressure on you to be in court eight hours a day, five days a week. Maybe even longer,” Slavin said.
There are approximately 500 immigration judges nationwide.