Deportation orders have surged more than 30 percent compared to this time last year, according to new data from the Washington Post:
Federal immigration courts ordered 57,069 people to leave the United States in the first six months of the Trump administration, up nearly 31 percent over the same period last year, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.
Additionally, 16,058 people prevailed in their immigration cases, or had them closed, allowing them to stay in the United States, according to the data, which tallied orders issued from Feb. 1 to July 31. That total marked a 20.7 percent drop from the 20,255 immigrants who prevailed at the same time last year.
In a news release, the Justice Department said the notoriously backlogged court system is making a return to the “rule of law” under President Trump, who has vowed to speed deportations. But officials did not say how many of the orders were issued in absentia, meaning to immigrants who did not attend their hearings and therefore could not immediately be deported.
Politico noted that deportations under Trump are lagging behind the record numbers set by Barack Obama, but this can almost certainly be traced in large part to the backlogged immigration courts, which only stands to worsen under Trump’s unshackled deportation force:
U.S. immigration courts are facing a backlog of over half a million cases—and each one, on average, takes almost two years to close. These delays mean that everyone from asylum seekers to green-card holders faces extended stays in detention while awaiting rulings. Speaking about the problem, one immigration judge recently told the Times, “The courts as a whole lose credibility.”
“When you go out and you arrest a whole bunch of people willy-nilly, [the judge] has got to fill his docket time hearing those arguments,” John Sandweg, the acting ICE director under Obama, told Politico.