When it comes to immigration, President Barack Obama has struggled to appease the left and the right. While he’s been called the “deporter-in-chief” by liberals upset with his record of deporting more foreigners than any other president, conservatives seeking tougher enforcement of undocumented immigrants feel Obama has not done enough.
The New York Times reported on Thursday that the Obama administration has quietly delayed deportation proceedings for more than 56,000 immigrants who fled Central America in 2014. The news comes months after the Department of Homeland Security performed controversial immigration deportation raids.
The Times, through interviews with immigration lawyers, federal officials and judges, reported that about half of the population of Central American families and individuals are seeing their immigration proceedings delayed. The government is implementing these measures as cost-saving measures after an error allowed immigrants required to be on the electronic monitoring program to do so for free.
The immigrants are forced to pay a $4 and $8 fee every day for the ankle bracelets that monitor their movement. Many of them may not see their cases go to court until 2023.
“The whole thing is docket chaos,” Paul Schmidt, a retired employee for federal immigration agencies and immigration judge, told the Times.
The Justice Department has hired a slew of new judges in order to try and navigate through the backlog of immigration cases, which have reached record levels. Some immigrants, as a result, may be pushed through quickly and those who are seeking pro bono counsel may find themselves in court without legal representation.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics in September, family apprehensions and detentions of unaccompanied children have seen a sharp increase over last year’s totals.
Many of the Central Americans who have entered the country since 2014 are immigrants seeking asylum from violent circumstances in their home countries.