First, the local immigration court backlog was on the road to getting better, but now it looks like things may have done an 180 and it’s getting worse.
Right now, there are just over 3,200 pending cases, and with President Donald Trump’s executive order, which is tough on immigration enforcement, immigration attorneys 8 News NOW spoke with, believe the stricter policies will result in more apprehensions. They said that would mean more cases will end up in immigration court.
Reza Athari says his law firm has an estimated 2,000 clients.
“As soon as Mr. Trump was elected, we started having an influx of inquiries,” Athari said.
This week, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a memo highlighting new priorities which include all detained immigrants, unaccompanied children in the care of a federal agency, and detainees out on bond.
“A lot of cases are going to be rescheduled as a result of this new memo,” Athari said.
Under the latest executive order on immigration, prosecutorial discretion has been suspended indefinitely.
Immigration Attorney Jocelyn Cortez says that is the ability of the government attorneys to offer what is called administrative closure, which is basically to put a pause on a low priority deportation case.”
According to TRAC Immigration, the number of pending cases in Nevada tripled between 2008 and 2015. However, there was a slight decrease last year, and the same trend appears to be continuing early on in 2017.
“We were fortunate to gain several more judges in the last year, or so-so our backlog had gone down quite a bit,” Cortez said. “We were looking at about a year and a half until you’d get to go to your immigration trial.”
Immigration attorneys believe that won’t last long.
“An ICE detention would more than likely result in a referral to immigration court,” according to Cortez.
“I think that the backlog will be more and more,” Athari said.
During court proceedings, undocumented immigrants have the right to legal representation, but they have to pay for it out of their own pockets. The rule also applies to children. There aren’t any public defenders in immigration court.