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New Judges, Prosecutors Expected to Speed Up Immigration Court Backlog

5 years 11 months 1 week ago Friday, May 04 2018 May 4, 2018 May 04, 2018 6:35 PM May 04, 2018 in News

HARLINGEN – A total of 35 new prosecutors and 18 new judges are expected to speed up the backlog in immigration court; some of them in the Rio Grande Valley.

The recent backlog reached more than half a million cases.

Claudia Gonzalez is one of many affected by the backlog. She says she's been expecting a decision on her deportation for five years since she and her 16-year-old daughter, Emily, crossed the border.

Gonzalez says she's expecting an appointment with her lawyer.

"For the judge to decide if I can continue my case," she says. "If they decide that's it and I have to leave."

Gonzalez is one of many who felt the need to leave where they're from. 

She says her home village in Tabasco, Mexico is rife with crime, murders and violence against women. She says she feared for her life, like many others, and made a claim in immigration court.

"It takes about a year to set that hearing up," says attorney Rodrigo Vallejo, regarding the timeline for a deportation hearing.

Vallejo is an attorney with Diaz & Crane Attorneys at Law.

He says in the past, the immigration court courts have rescheduled cases, which set them back up to three years.

"Some people want their hearing as soon as possible," says Vallejo. “They have a good case, especially because they just want to be here completely legally, without having to deal with the courts anymore."

He says others want to stretch out the process as long as they can. 

Some of those new immigration judges will be serving the immigration courts in Harlingen and Port Isabel.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice says the exact number of those two courts hasn't been finalized.

The judges will hear cases in person and by telephone.

"The more judges that we have, the easier it's going to be for them to set earlier hearings," says Vallejo. "So it's definitely going to decrease the amount of time clients have to wait for their next hearing."

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