Immigration Court Backlogs and the Smuggling of Alien Women and Children

By Dan Cadman on July 22, 2016

Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) has issued a report showing that despite the addition of new immigration judge resources, the backlog of removal docket cases in the national immigration court system administered by the Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review (DOJ EOIR) continues to grow. As of the end of June, TRAC tells us the backlog is at an all-time high of 496,704 — just short of the half million case mark. With the new additions, there are now 273 immigration judges to handle this staggering caseload.


Number of Cases Pending in Immigration Court, FY 1998 - FY 2016, TRAC Immigration

According to TRAC, nearly a third of the docket involves allegedly high priority “unaccompanied minor” (69,278) and “women with children” (74,502) cases. This is astounding because wholesale arrival of unaccompanied minors and women bringing their children illegally across our borders is a relatively new phenomenon in the decades-old problem of illegal-border crossers. It is one that has developed during the Obama administration because of lax policies that actually drive the flow because they force government agencies to act as the middle-men who complete the smuggling transaction of placing these minors and women with the families that engaged coyotes to smuggle them into the United States to begin with. And have no doubt, nearly 100% (if not indeed all) of these individuals get put into the hands of smuggling cartels — including the notorious, and notoriously violent, Los Zetas — to get them through Mexico and across the border. Sometimes they don't make it:

In August 2010, 72 would-be illegal immigrants from Mexico were lined up and executed, their bodies discovered on a remote ranch a mere 90 miles from the U.S. border. The drug gang responsible for the kidnapping and murders, Los Zetas, captured its victims as they traveled through Tamaulipas, presumably on their way to cross the border illegally into the United States. When the 72 people refused to work for the gang, they were executed.

Our government policy not only makes a mockery of law, but it puts thousands of the most vulnerable members of any society — women and children — at risk of violence and abuse (see here, here and here). How ironic, then, that once they've arrived and been handed over to relatives, courtesy of Uncle Sam (often having been physically or sexually abused, or extorted for additional funds by the smuggling cartels), the administration then pulls out all the stops to declare each and every one of them part of the protected class described by the William Wilberforce Anti-Human Trafficking Act. What is worse, there are few checks — and none involving DNA matches — on the individuals who arrive to claim these people as “family”, and so they may even be getting handed over to human traffickers and shady opportunists on this side of the border as well. There have been documented instances of this having happened already, and the federal government's shoddy hand-overs and follow-up are, or at least should be, a source of national shame.

The hypocrisy is breathtaking, and tells us a lot about the phony humanitarianism of White House officials, cabinet officers and agency leaders; particularly in the Department of Homeland Security, but also within DOJ and EOIR.

The result of this obviously failed policy of “family unification” is that, failing the will to repatriate anyone, our federal government sends the most undeniable message to those in the three primary Central American source countries: get here, at whatever risk you are put to by unscrupulous human smugglers, and you are home free. Of course this puts the lie to the weak and ineffectual public service messages and anti-trafficking/anti-smuggling campaigns that the administration has undertaken in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Aliens are smart enough to harken to what we do, not what we say, in making their calculations about risk versus benefit.

Thus it is that the United States government can fairly be accused of having a hand in the trafficking of tens of thousands of women and children into our borders. And those numbers are growing. The evidence is there for you to see, if you look; just examine the figures assembled by TRAC in its latest report.