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Congressman Cuellar announces 8 new immigration judges coming to Laredo

The backlog of immigration court cases has expanded at such a significant pace that Congressman Henry Cuellar says there is a major need for immigration judges in the southern border, especially his district.
Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 10:59 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - The growing backlog of immigration court cases is set to get some relief next year.

The backlog of immigration court cases has expanded at such a significant pace that Congressman Henry Cuellar says there is a major need for immigration judges in the southern border, especially his district.

He says currently there are none in Laredo. Typically, immigration judges from out of town will video conference in.

But that will soon change. Cuellar says eight new immigration judges will be coming to Laredo in 2021.

“The funding is there, the instruction is there, they are already starting to ask internally if any judges wants to move to Laredo. So that is all in place. So it’s a matter of getting the court space, doing the modification for in the court rooms.”

According to Cuellar, the case backlog nationally has now exceeded 1.2 million, with over 189,000 of those cases in Texas.

He also says the waiting periods for an immigration court date on average is 759 days; 793 days in Texas.

The pandemic has only added extra weight to the backlog with many judges not holding court.

“We’ve had some immigration judges that have been home since March. Not working on one single case, no teleworking. The reason is that they don’t have laptops, they haven’t had any work assignments. Again, the health of the judges should be taken care of but if they’re going to be at home, they should telework just like all of you do, just like some of us.”

The congressman says he is also working on congress approving to fund and hire additional immigration judges for the southern border.

The 2021 fiscal year Appropriation Bill includes funding to hire 100 new immigration judges with support staff.

“We have to run this immigration system a lot better. Again the date delay is a day without justice and that’s what I’m trying to make sure.”

The bill has been passed by the house and now heads to the senate.

Cuellar says the Appropriations Bill also includes language that would help secure new money for additional courtroom space.

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