Immigration debate in the media remains as volatile as ever. As a matter of law and public policy, however, the legal process of immigration plods along for those mired in its complex system. Compounding a pandemic backlog, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sought a 50 percent increase in deportation orders last month.
Deportation hearings eclipsed by the number of new deportation cases
Despite new judges and more expedited hearings, immigration cases have taken longer to complete, effectively eliminating any gain. During the first nine months of fiscal year (FY) 2021, an average of 891 days elapsed between the time the DHS issued a Notice to Appear (NTA) – a document issued to a noncitizen the agency believes should be deported – and the court rendered a decision. In 2020, the timeframe for similar disposition measured 451 days, slightly more than half the time.
When considered in terms a complete process, i.e. date from an NTA and the next scheduled hearing date, a prospective deportee will live through a legal eternity before receiving a full determination. As December 2020, the average wait for a hearing date lasts 4.5 years. Often, most cases require multiple hearings, which only prolongs the individual’s frustration and worry.
Experience and patience matter
The enforcement and administrative aspects of immigration policy must work in tandem, to execute their statutory purpose. Unlike heated debates about the issue engaged in by pundits, the actuation of deportation policy involves deliberate analysis of an individual’s specific needs and circumstances. An attorney who works in this specific area of law can help those who seek redress in those situations.