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Trump Administration to Pause Hiring of Immigration Judges Amid Case Backlog

The Trump Administration is pausing its hiring of immigration judges, as well as slowing its procurement of support staff and canceling a training conference, according to a Justice Department email obtained by BuzzFeed News. The moves are an attempt to cut down costs so it can hire judges to handle the backlog of immigration cases.

James McHenry, the director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, told the immigration court staff that the timing of the 2019 budget has left the office short of being able to fulfill its operational needs, according to the report.

In January, a PBS NewsHour report revealed that roughly 800,000 immigration court cases were portioned across just 400 judges. At the time there was some concern that the government shutdown would force some cases to be rescheduled at the back of the queue, 2022.

Due to an increase in costs for operational needs, interpreters, and transcriptions, McHenry said financial cuts had to be made elsewhere, leading to cutback. He also said that he didn’t think that the court would be able to bring in additional judges after the current class starts in April and the nationwide rollout of a new online filing system will be frozen.

The pause will likely further delay immigration court proceedings, which already are backlogged, in some cases, by years.

In recent months, a number of judges who oversee asylum and deportation cases have retired or resigned, citing interference in how they are handling cases.