The Biden administration is seeking to overhaul the U.S. immigration system, expanding protections to hundreds of thousands of immigrants and embarking on a plan to restructure the asylum process at the U.S.-Mexico border. But ever-swelling backlogs in immigration applications and court hearings have slowed legal immigration, threatened to undermine the integrity of the system as a whole, and could jeopardize the success of the Biden immigration agenda.
Much of the backlogs in processing immigration applications is a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced a months-long stall to many government services in 2020 and created slowdowns even upon the reopening of offices at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the State Department, which respectively process applications for immigration benefits from individuals in the United States and abroad. But at USCIS and in the immigration courts where removal proceedings are decided, the pandemic only exacerbated sizeable bottlenecks that had existed for years.
The immigration court backlog now tops 1.6 million cases, up from 1.1 million before the pandemic and more than double the caseload that existed in fiscal year (FY) 2018. At USCIS, the backlog has surged from 5.7 million applications at the end of FY 2019 to about 9.5 million as of February. And at the State Department, waits for in-person consular interviews for immigrant visas rose to a high of 532,000 last July, up from an average 60,900 in 2019 before the pandemic.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ Article: Mounting Backlogs Undermine U.S. Immigrat.. | migrationpolicy.org