Updated

U.S. immigration judges have completed over half a million new cases this year, putting them on pace to set a new record.

The immigration court backlog has grown from 2.8 million at the end of Fiscal Year 2023 to nearly 3.6 million in FY 2024, with immigration judges being unable to keep up with the current flow of new cases into the system, according to data collected by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a nonpartisan data gathering organization that tracks immigration cases and backlogs.

The newest TRAC report, which was released last week, shows that 3.6 million migrants have pending deportation cases, with 1.3 million of those having filed asylum applications with the immigration court system as of the end of April.

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Migrants standing in line at the US southern border

Migrants at the front of the line are processed for entry by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. (Jon Michael Raasch/Fox News Digital)

The number of new cases filed as well as the number of cases completed by immigration judges are both on pace to exceed all-time highs this year, the TRAC report notes, though the pace of completions will be unable to stem the growing backlog.

"Our system was never created to deal with the numbers we're seeing," Alfonso Aguilar, the director of Hispanic Engagement at the American Principles Project, told Fox News Digital. "We're never going to have enough judges to process these cases."

The report comes after a TRAC report in March found that about 200,000 deportation cases have been thrown out since President Biden took office after the Department of Homeland Security failed to file the required "Notice to Appear" in time for a scheduled hearing.

Aguilar believes the backlog of cases can also be traced back to the administration's policies, arguing that the current administration will allow immigrants to "stay here indefinitely."

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"The dramatic spike in cases is due to the administration's efforts to facilitate asylum fraud," he said. "Most of the people who are requesting asylum at the border and are being allowed in have no legitimate claim to it."

Aguilar's comments were echoed by Lora Ries, the director of the Heritage Foundation's Border Security and Immigration center.

"The DOJ appears to be closing more immigration cases — but those cases only exist because of the historic number of illegal aliens that have poured into the country on Biden's watch," Ries told Fox News Digital. "When Biden came into office, 1.2 million cases were pending at the DOJ. Now, that number is 3.6 million. Only halfway into this current fiscal year, DHS has added more than 1.3 million new cases to the court’s docket. That’s more than were pending in total when Biden began."

But reached for comment by Fox News Digital, a White House spokesperson argued that the blame for the situation at the border falls on Congress.

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"The Administration spent months negotiating in good faith to deliver the toughest and fairest bipartisan border security bill in decades because we need Congress to make significant policy reforms and to provide additional funding to secure our border and fix our broken immigration system," the spokesperson said. "The agreement would have added 100 new immigration judge teams to help reduce the asylum caseload backlog and adjudicate cases more quickly."

The lack of an official ruling has left some migrants in legal limbo, unable to apply for asylum or obtain the work permit that often accompanies such a claim.

migrants detained by Border Patrol on road in Arizona

Border Patrol agents stopped a caravan of 128 people after it illegally entered the U.S. from Mexico to Arizona. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

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In cases that do reach a decision, the most recent TRAC report notes that immigration judges have issued removal or voluntary departure orders in 35.7% of the completed cases so far this year. A removal order, otherwise known as a deportation order, allows a migrant to be removed by immigration authorities, while a voluntary order gives a migrant a certain amount of time to voluntarily leave the country. If the migrant fails to follow the order or reenters the country illegally again, that order would then become a removal order.

ICE office in green "police" vest with Colombian national being arrested, his face blurred

A Colombian national is arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) removal officers.? (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

The report notes that Miami-Dade County in Florida had the most residents with pending deportation cases, while Colorado had the highest proportion of people ordered to leave the country. 

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Meanwhile, immigrants from Honduras topped the list of most orders to depart the country, the report notes.

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