Changes Made to Prioritized Cases for Immigration Courts

Related Story

MCALLEN – Immigration courts are changing the way they prioritize cases. The chief immigration judge issued specific instructions on how to handle the cases.

The opportunity to take a case to the immigration court is a chance for people in the country illegally to delay the removal process.

But clogged courts meant some cases had to wait nearly three years.

A man from El Salvador, who goes by the name Donald, said he considers himself lucky. He crossed the border illegally last week. He was picked up, processed and released. Then two days later he was with his daughter.

The family is currently staying at the McAllen Sacred Heart Respite Center.

The center used to be buzzing with dozens of Central American immigrants recently caught and released. But now it’s just Donald and his daughter seeking shelter.

The Department of Homeland Security secretary officially ordered the end of the catch and release policy. But somehow Donald was caught and released.

Under new guidelines for the immigration courts, people who are caught and released are no longer a scheduling priority. In July of last year, the courts were backed up with half-a-million cases.

A woman from Rio Bravo, Tamaulipas waited six months for her first asylum hearing. She’s expected back in a month and then she’ll be back one more.

Donald said people who crossed the river, like him, know things are changing. He tells his daughter to take advantage of the opportunity they have being in the United States.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS reached out ICE and asked if they are detaining more people. We also wanted to know how many people are still being released. They said they’re working on a response and will get back to us. 


7 Days