Reid throws costly wrench at broken immigration courts

By Kenric Ward,

Some 77,000 cases are pending in Texas immigration courts, and that number is growing daily.

Since 2014, the state’s backlog has increased 58 percent, according to a Syracuse University study. The average projected wait for each pending case in Houston has swelled to nearly five years.

Now Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has a plan to string out the process, slowing it even further while making it more costly.

The Nevada Democrat introduced the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act this month. It would ensure that unaccompanied minor migrants, along with others fighting removal from the United States, receive legal representation at taxpayer expense.

According to Reid, his bill “would require the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that immigrants at detention and border facilities have access to counsel and provide legal orientation programs so that detainees understand their rights.”

Reid’s measure includes an accountability metric: It orders DHS to report how many qualifying individuals actually receive counsel.

“Essentially, it’s a plan to tie up the courts for decades, instead of years, while forcing American taxpayers to foot the bill for endless litigation,” said Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

The wheels of justice have been grinding to a halt for some time. In 2014, immigration courts began resetting thousands of cases on narrow dockets … in 2019.

“There is no way that all the cases currently scheduled for Nov. 29, 2019 could get heard on that date,” Denise Gilman, director of the Immigration Clinic at University of Texas School of Law, told the Houston Press. “It’s literally thousands in Houston and also in San Antonio.”

Assuming the migrant defendants even show up for their long-postponed court date – a large assumption — Reid’s legislation would add another costly layer to the drawn-out legal proceedings.

“This has become a way for people to stay in the U.S.,” Mehlman told “The likelihood is that they are released, and no one will come looking for them.”



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