All posts by Mariana Alfaro

Immigration courts remain backlogged in big cities as judges are sent to the border

By Mariana Alfaro
Medill Reports

In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent 25 immigration judges to detention centers near the border and promised to add 125 new judges to the bench in the next two years, all part of the Administration’s plan to “fight against criminal aliens.” This plan was criticized by immigrant communities and advocates as a way to expedite deportations without due process, delaying more than 20,000 cases in immigration courts across the country.

As judges headed to detention facilities on the border, immigration courts across the country continued to struggle with a backlog of cases that, though dating back to the Obama-era, has grown under President Donald Trump’s administration.

According to Politico, in January there were around 540,000 cases caught in the immigration court backlog. By August 2017, the number had grown to 632,261, with nearly 50 percent of these cases in California, New York and Texas — states that account for nearly half of the country’s immigrant population, according to the Pew Research Center. Judges sent to the border told Politico that their dockets were nearly empty in their newly assigned courts, with some likening the temporary uproot to a vacation.

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Salvadoran immigrants fret as future of special protection status in peril

By Mariana Alfaro
Medill Reports

The Salvadoran consulate in Chicago is tucked away in a small office above a Chick-Fil-A and a mattress store, in a building next to the State and Lake train stop in the heart of the Loop. On a wintry morning, the consulate’s waiting room was packed, as usual, with Salvadorans — young, old, men and women dressed in their Sunday best, although it was Tuesday, Nov. 14 — waiting for appointments with their country’s representatives.

This time around, though, there was an added pressure in the air.

On Nov. 3, the United States was set to begin removing protections from immigrants under the Temporary Protective Status program — removing deportation protections from nearly 300,000 Haitians and Central Americans. Nearly two thirds of these immigrants are Salvadoran.

The administration has already removed TPS protections from Nicaraguan and Haitian immigrants. However, the White House announced it would take more time to decide the fate of 57,000 Honduran immigrants living in the U.S. under these protections, and has yet to make an announcement regarding the fate of Salvadoran TPS recipients.

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