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Lawyers' group concerned about immigration courts

The American Bar Association, or ABA, which is a large, nationwide organization of lawyers, has again expressed its concern that the immigration courts in Virginia and throughout the rest of the country are facing serious structural difficulties.

According to the report, the immigration courts are experiencing a large caseload, which in turn means additional delays in the administration of this country's immigration laws. Indeed, according to records, there are about 800,000 cases currently before the immigration courts. At the time the ABA last reported on the status of the immigration courts, in 2010, the backlog was 262,000 cases.

Additionally, the report criticized the fact that the court had made changes in its practices that were intended to make the processing of cases more efficient; however, there was not enough funding to accommodate these changes. The report's authors also thought that the courts were relying too heavily on teleconferences to conduct their business and even suggested that the hiring process for immigration judges may be tainted by bias.

While the ABA made several recommendations in light of its findings, it also noted that many of the recommendations it made in 2010 were not followed.

One proposal is for the immigration courts become so-called Article I courts, that is, courts created directly by the authority of Congress as opposed to through an administrative agency, in this case, the Department of Justice. According to proponents, this would give immigration courts more independence and clout.

In any event, those in and around the Harrisonburg, Virginia, area who may have immigration-related issues should be aware that the courts hearing such matters can be intimidating, particularly at the present time. This is one reason why getting the help of an experienced immigration attorney could be important.

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