Detained illegal immigrants enter a backlogged immigration legal system

In May 2017, News 5 reported that Cleveland's immigration court backlog is already into 2021 because there are so many cases working through the system right now. Immigration lawyers tell News 5 even with more judges since then, raids like the ones in Ohio only add to the backlog.

For the hundreds of illegal immigrants rounded up in Ohio by ICE in the last few days and weeks, immigration attorney Brian DiFranco says the legal system will move pretty slow.

"Every single one of those individuals will have a right to see a judge and to prove their eligibility or a reasonable bond," said DiFranco. "

The Cleveland Immigration Court has three full-time judges right now with rotating judges coming in from other parts of the country to help with the caseload. Still, the delays are roughly the same.

"We have a case system with the Department of Justice Immigration Court that's already saturated and we're dumping hundreds of fresh new cases on a single week or month based on a new raid," said DiFranco. "That's a lot."

Government data shows President Obama deported more illegal immigrants than any other president when he left office. Brian claims Obama Administration priorities focused on dangerous criminals and people who recently came to the United States while leaving people with children who are U.S. citizens alone.

"Under the new administration, the priorities have changed and every person who is in the United States illegally has become a priority, period," said Brian.

Many of the people taken in the most recent raids might be held by ICE out of state in Michigan or Pennsylvania. Lawyers say the immigrants will first see a judge in those states before likely transferring their cases back to Ohio and potentially ending up in the immigration court in Cleveland.

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