Cap On Immigration Court Cases Puts Many In Limbo

By Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez
February 23, 2012

PHOENIX -- Since 1998, immigration judges have had the authority to stop up to 3,500 deportation proceedings every fiscal year, which runs from October to September. Judges can decide if a non-lawful immigrant is eligible for a “Cancellation of Deportation” and granted permanent residency status.

Earlier this month, the chief immigration judge notified immigration courts around the country that the cap had been reached. It’s the first time it’s happened this early.

Judge Dana Leigh Marks, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, said the restriction has had an impact on people litigating cases in courtrooms all over the U.S.

Photo Courtesy Maurice Goldman
Tucson Immigration Attorney Maurice "Mo" Goldman.

“When there is the problem with a numerical cap, the immigration judge has to take the case under submission, leaving the parties somewhat in limbo,” Leigh Marks said.

Tucson Immigration attorney Maurice Goldman says he’s concerned. If the court system continues to reach its cap earlier each year, it could mean another problem for the immigration court system.

“It’s a good thing to hear that the visas are used up because judges are granting these cases probably more than they had in the past,” Goldman said. “But it could be problematic. It extends all the way to the visa processing for people who want to bring their family members.”

Judge Leigh Marks says for now, judges will have to put cases eligible for a visa on hold, most likely until the next fiscal year.