The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released its Fiscal Year 2020 Enforcement Lifecycle Report which links the enforcement records for 3.5 million border encounters between fiscal 2014 and fiscal 2019, with their final or most current enforcement outcomes.

The report indicates that we still have a border security crisis, a crisis that is likely to get much worse if President-elect Joe Biden keeps his campaign promise to rescind President Donald Trump’s border security measures during the first 100 days of the new administration.

Fortunately, Biden is walking back this promise.

At a recent press conference, Biden said that changing Trump’s policies immediately is the last thing we need because it could lead to having 2 million asylum seekers at our border. He thinks he needs probably six months to rebuild the system for processing migrants and to secure funding for more immigration judges.

His aides are saying that initially only a limited number of migrants will be allowed to have their asylum claims heard.

Six months won’t do it

We have never had a system that was capable of processing all of the undocumented aliens that have been apprehended after entering the U.S. illegally. There are too many of them. The choice has been between prolonged detention and “catch and release.”

And the immigration courts have never been able to handle their asylum applications.

No progress has been made on reducing the immigration court’s backlog since fiscal 2006, when the Bush administration reduced it from 184,211 to 168,827 cases. The court’s backlog was up to 1,281,586 cases as of the end of November 2020.

The immigration court is so far behind that even if it stopped accepting new cases, it would take more than four years to catch up.

Moreover, lack of funding to hire new judges isn’t the only problem. The immigration court has had such difficulty finding qualified lawyers who want to be immigration judges that it has had to resort to hiring attorneys with no immigration law experience.


Published initially on The Hill.