How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Longer immigration court wait times, with especially long waits in L.A.

Source: Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse

The time it takes for immigration courts to decide cases continues to stretch, with average wait times getting longer by the year lately, according to a new report. And longest waits are in Los Angeles.

This is according to federal data obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University in New York, which keeps tabs on federal enforcement spending.

According to the report released today, average immigration court wait times grew longer during the first six months of federal fiscal year 2011, which began last Oct. 1. During this time the average wait for an immigrant's case to be decided reached 302 days, a jump of 7.5 percent in the last six months and almost 30 percent higher than the average time it took in FY 2009.

Some courts have far worse backlogs than others. From the report:

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ICE deportations by the numbers

Photo by olongapowoodcraft/Flickr (Creative Commons)


The record deportations logged by the Obama administration continue on pace, with more people deported in fiscal year 2010 than ever before. This year promises similar numbers: ICE records through May 23 show that 243,821 people have been deported since last Oct. 1, the start of the 2011 fiscal year.

From an agency chart, the ICE removal numbers from recent years:

FY 2010 = 392,862

FY 2009 = 389,834

FY 2008 = 369,221

FY 2007 = 291,060

The average daily population of immigrants in detention rose slightly from 30,295 in FY 2007 to 33,366 in FY 2020, though the average length of stay - for most, the time they are held while awaiting deportation - has decreased.

Despite a federal push to deport more convicted criminals, according to agency stats, 197,090 of those deported in FY 2010 did not have a criminal record - a little more than half. But among those who did, what was it for? According to an Associated Press analysis, a growing number of people have been deported following traffic and DUI arrests. From a story today:

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Top five immigration stories of 2010, #3: Secure Communities and 287(g)

Photo by 888bailbonds/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A Los Angeles County prisoner bus, June 2009. The county extended its participation in the federal 287(g) program in October.

The record number of deportations carried out in the past two years by immigration officials under the Obama administration has been fueled, in large part, by the use of two controversial federal programs that work in cooperation with local agencies, Secure Communities and 287(g).

Both predate the current administration, but their use has been expanded as the Obama administration has shifted its focus to catching and deporting immigrants with criminal records, which the programs are meant to target. Administration officials have lauded both as instrumental to enforcement, culminating with the deportation of almost 800,000 immigrants in two years.

But neither program has worked exactly as planned, drawing heavy scrutiny this year from both immigrant advocates and government officials, including some in jurisdictions that have tried to opt out of one  - the Secure Communities fingerprint-sharing program - and learned they can't.

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