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Immigration court backlog piled up in Maryland, nationally during the U.S. government shutdown

As the federal government’s partial shutdown dragged on, immigration courts across the nation — including in Maryland — canceled tens of thousands of hearings due to lapsed funding for the Department of Justice, according to Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, or TRAC.

By Jan. 11, the number of canceled immigration hearings reached nearly 43,000, TRAC reported. If the partial shutdown had continued through the end of January, “as many as 100,000 individuals awaiting their day in court” would have seen their cases delayed.

With the shutdown over as of Friday, TRAC estimated that 86,192 cases have been canceled — with an estimated 1,367 in Maryland, which ranked eighth among states hardest hit by cancellations.

“Individuals impacted by these cancellations may have already been waiting two, three, or even four years for their day in court,” the report states.

The cancellations will add thousands of cases to the national system’s “active case backlog,” which increased 49 percent since 2017 to 809,041 as of Nov. 30, TRAC reported.

Maryland ranked first in the nation for how quickly its backlog increased during that period. The caseload at the immigration court in Baltimore more than doubled, growing 107 percent — from 17,074 in 2017 to 35,300 at the end of November.

“The state of Maryland continues to lead the pack with the highest rate of increase in pending cases since the beginning of FY 2017,” TRAC reported.

ddonovan@baltsun.com

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