Brendan Kirby, LifeZette
The United States is on the verge of reversing an immigration court backlog that has been building for years, Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified Tuesday.
Immigration hawks long have pointed to the backlog, now about 600,000 cases, as a factor in undermining enforcement. Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee that the backlog has barely grown during the past two to three months as a result of 50 additional immigration judges who have started working since President Donald Trump took office.
Sessions said the Department of Justice has shortened the time for hiring new judges and hopes to bring an additional 360 to 370 on board.
One possibility, Arthur said, is that the previous administration wanted to hide a surge in the number of illegal immigrants claiming they had a “credible fear” of persecution if forced to return to their home countries.
That number surged under former President Barack Obama. Arthur said 88 percent of people who get immigration hearings based on claims of credible fear win. But he added that many others who get hearings based on bogus claims end up absconding.
The federal government, he said, needs to do a better job of detecting fraudulent claims.
Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, told LifeZette that the Obama administration sent a clear signal to people trying to cross the border without permission that they could stay — at least temporarily — if they uttered the phrase “credible fear” to border agents.
Sessions defended his decision to recommend ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for illegal immigrants brought to America as children. He said the program, which the Obama administration created by executive action, was not lawful.