BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) – Pending immigration cases have increased 70 percent since last year in Minnesota’s Bloomington federal immigration court, according to recently released data from Syracuse University.
The court handles cases from North Dakota and South Dakota in addition to Minnesota. Minnesota Public Radio reports that six immigration judges currently handle the cases for the three states.
Minnesota currently has 13,703 pending cases, according to the data. It concludes that the backlog of cases is at an all-time high. More than a million cases are pending nationally. New York, California, and Texas have some of the highest numbers.
North Dakota and South Dakota don’t have any pending cases.
An immigration law professor attributes the rise in cases to stricter enforcement and not having enough judges to handle the caseload.
“On the ICE side, enforcement has gone up, so the number of arrests, particularly arrests of people who have been here for a long time with no criminal history, those have increased exponentially,” said Ana Pottratz Acosta, who teaches at Mitchell Hamline law school. “But then on the immigration court side, they haven't beefed up the system by hiring more immigration judges or more personnel to manage the increase in cases.”
Gail Montenegro, a spokeswoman for the Midwest region of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, said officials are working to process cases more quickly and are asking for funding for more immigration judges next year.