HOUSTON — Driven by last summer’s influx of illegal immigration from Central America, the already large backlog in federal immigration courts has reached an all-time high with more than 445,000 pending cases, according to a report.
As of April, the backlog hit 445,706 cases, a nearly 30 percent increase since the start of the last fiscal year, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.
Immigration courts have been overwhelmed since last summer’s influx of more than 68,500 unaccompanied children and about as many family units across the southern border, most from Central America.
During the summer surge, unaccompanied children’s cases were given priority in the courts. Even so, they make up a small proportion of the backlog: 70,035 cases, about 16 percent of the total as of April. But the juvenile case backlog is still 68 percent larger than it was before the summer surge last June.
While most backlogged cases involved Mexican immigrants, their backlog has increased only about 4 percent since the start of last fiscal year, while the backlog has skyrocketed for Central Americans — up about 63 percent for Guatemalans, about 92 percent for Salvadorans and 143 percent for Hondurans.
The report, based on federal data, found that California, Texas, and New York lead the nation with the largest immigration backlogs, followed by Florida and New Jersey.