Press Release

Rep. Cuellar Helps Deliver Funding for 65 New Immigration Judges

New judges represent 130 new judges in two years and will help decrease the backlog of over half-million immigration cases

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WASHINGTON, July 13, 2017 | Rafael Benavides ((956) 725-0639) | comments

Today, Congressman Cuellar (TX-28) announced the inclusion of funding for 65 new immigration judges and support staff he helped secure in the Fiscal Year 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations bill. This bill was passed by the House Appropriations Committee, of which Congressman Cuellar is a member, and awaits action by the full U.S. House of Representatives.

“There are over 500 thousand immigration cases awaiting trial or resolution in this country. That means over half a million people are currently waiting in limbo to have their immigration cases adjudicated,” said Congressman Cuellar. “The inclusion of these 65 new immigration judges will bring the total number of judges to 449 and help reduce this enormous backlog of pending cases.  Getting this backlog resolved and allowing people quick resolution of their cases should appeal to everyone, no matter how you feel about immigration policy.” 

In addition to the increase in judges, there is language in the bill directing these judges to border regions with the highest workloads. Congressman Cuellar has been trying to get Immigration Judges into border communities for years. “Currently, due in part to the lack of available judges, immigrants at the border are either detained for long periods of time or released into the United States with a promise to return at a later court date,” Cuellar continued. “Neither of those is a good option for the immigrants or the enforcement of our laws. Having more judges at the border will help treat immigrants more fairly, and keep our country safer.”

In addition to the new judges, the bill also reiterates language included in the FY17 Omnibus calling on EOIR to address delays that let immigration review cases drag on for years.  The bill sets a goal for immigration cases to be processed in 60 days if an individual is detained, and in 365 days if the individual is not detained. Currently, the median length for these cases is 71 days and 665 days respectively. Similarly, the bill continues enhancements provided in FY17 to improve EOIR information technology systems and for courtroom space and infrastructure.

“I want to give special thanks to my fellow Texan, CJS Chairman John Culberson, for all of his support on this issue and working with me to include these necessary judges. I also would like to thank CJS Ranking Member José Serrano, Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen and Ranking Member Nita Lowey for all of their support and hard work on this bill, as well.”

These 65 judges come on the heels of 10 new judges Congressman Cuellar helped add in the Fiscal Year 2017 Omnibus Appropriation bill which passed Congress in May.  The Congressman was also successful in including 55 judges in the FY16 Appropriations bill bringing the total, if this bill is signed into law, to nearly  130 new judges in just two years.

The Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill is one of twelve annual appropriations bills used to fund the government each year. Congressman Cuellar sits on the Appropriations Committee which has jurisdiction over crafting these twelve annual bills. 

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