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Immigration Backlog Hits 2 Million with Wait Times Dragging Up to 4 Years

Immigration Backlog Hits 2 Million with Wait Times Dragging Up to 4 Years

A new report by Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) of Syracuse University has found that the total number of pending immigration cases now exceeds 2 million, with an average backlog wait time of four years. The report also revealed that the number of pending asylum cases has surpassed 800,000 for the first time ever. These figures paint a grim picture of the current state of the United States’ immigration system.

Drop in Venezuelans Claiming Asylum

The report highlights a significant drop in the number of Venezuelans claiming asylum, following the Department of Homeland Security’s order in October 2022 to send Venezuelans who cross illegally between ports of entry back to Mexico. This move meant that Venezuelans were no longer exempt from Title 42, due to the United States’ lack of diplomatic relations with the Venezuelan government.

However, earlier this month, Mexico agreed to accept Haitians, Cubans, and Nicaraguans in addition to Venezuelans, which could mean that Venezuelans may be allowed to claim asylum once again.

New Policy Limits Asylum-Seekers

Under the new policy, no more than 30,000 asylum-seekers from these four countries per month will be granted humanitarian parole into the United States during their immigration proceedings. They must also apply for an interview with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials at a border port via the agency’s CBP One app.

While there has been a drop in the number of Venezuelans who were issued Notices to Appear (NTA) by DHS — the first step in claiming U.S. asylum — the report notes that the drop cannot be solely attributed to the new policy, as there are many other factors that impact immigration flows and the issuance of new NTAs.

Impact on Immigration Court Cases

In August, the number of immigration court cases initiated hit an all-time monthly high of 100,391. While it dropped in September to 62,851, it rebounded to 84,070 in October. These numbers illustrate the immense strain on the immigration court system and the significant backlog of cases that it is currently facing.

Challenges and Evolving Threats

In a speech to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stressed that there is no single solution to stop illegal immigration. He cited the 2.5 million Venezuelans now living in Colombia and 1.5 million in Peru, as well as the 350,000 Haitians living in Brazil, Chile, and Costa Rica’s doubling of the number of Nicaraguans living within its borders in the past year.

Mayorkas called the challenge of migration a hemispheric crisis and emphasized the need to work together to address it. The threats and challenges that the United States faces are evolving, increasingly diverse, and dynamic, and require a collaborative effort to effectively address them.


The TRAC report provides a sobering look at the current state of the United States’ immigration system. The immense backlog of cases and the long wait times for those seeking asylum highlight the need for a comprehensive and effective solution. While the new policy may provide some relief, there are many other factors that contribute to the challenges that the immigration system faces. As Secretary Mayorkas emphasized, addressing these challenges will require a collaborative effort and a nuanced understanding of the evolving threats and challenges that we face.

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