University Professor David Driesen’s important new book—”The Specter of Dictatorship: Judicial Enabling of Presidential Power” (Stanford, 2021)—reveals how the U.S. Supreme Court’s presidentialism threatens democracy and what the United States can do about it. To celebrate the publication of the…
‘The Swamp That Needs Draining Now: It’s the Immigration Backlog ICE Created Through Indiscriminate Deportations’
Austin Kocher, a research assistant professor and faculty fellow in the Transactional Research Access Clearinghouse, wrote an op-ed for the Daily News titled “The swamp that needs draining now: It’s the immigration backlog ICE created through indiscriminate deportations.” Kocher’s research interests include the political and legal geographies of policing and immigration.
When president-elect Joe Biden’s administration takes office in January it will inherit an Immigration Court backlog of nearly 1.3 million deportation cases. Based on research from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse this backlog is the largest ever in U.S. history, despite many immigration judges being hired over the past three years.
Kocher says this data suggests that the problem stems not from the courts but rather in Immigration and Customs Enforcement, commonly referred to as ICE. While there is always a backlog of immigration cases, such a high number puts the lives and futures of immigrants at real risk. “The backlog also leaves immigrants in limbo for years, which may prevent them from obtaining legal status and may keep them separated from their families,” Kocher writes.
Additionally, Kocher explains that the COVID-19 pandemic has inflated the number of backlogged cases as courts were forced to cancel thousands of hearings while ICE continued to file new cases. “All this powerfully argues that the immigration court backlog is not primarily caused by the judges or their proceedings, but by ICE indiscriminately throwing more and more deportation cases into the adjudication machinery,” says Kocher. In the piece, Kocher argues that the only way for the incoming Biden administration to reduce the backlog is to work with ICE to limit the number of new cases filed.