By deciding to prioritize every single case, and refuing to grant prosecutorial discretion to anyone anymore, including those with no criminal history, family ties, and lengthy stays in the US, the Department of Homeland Security has essentially decided to not prioritize any cases resulting in huge backlogs. The Immigration Court backlog has grown to almost 600,000 cases, jumping up 100,000 in the last year. We had a number of trials scheduled for June and July this year, and so far almost all of them have been put off months or years due to the changes in DHS priorities. What that means is that cases are going to take years to get to trial. However, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has sped up its processing of appeals. We have received several single-member appeal decisions recently that took only 6 months or so to be decided, where in the past we have had appeals generally take a year or more, and some as many as 4 years to be decided.
Cancellation of Removal is a form of relief from deportation that requires someone to be in the US for 10 years before they are put in proceedings, and who have US citizen of Lawful Permanent Resident (green card holders) parents, spouse or children, who would suffer serious hardship - and you have no disqualifying criminal conviction (drugs, domestic violence, theft/fraud). Cancellation of Removal is very difficult to win for a lot of reasons, and another complicating factor is that only 10,000 cases can be granted each year, so we often see 1-2 year waits after trial before we get decisions in those cases where applicants are minimally qualified at least. Just in the last couple of weeks, new numbers have been released and so we have received a number of decisions in these cases, including two victories so far: based on hardship to a man’s elderly mother, and another to a father’s two US citizen girls. Congratulations to them both!