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Major backlog for U.S. Immigration Court in Las Vegas | News

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Major backlog for U.S. Immigration Court in Las Vegas
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LAS VEGAS -- President Obama will be in a familiar place in the valley Friday. The president is expected to be at Del Sol High School, the same place where he laid out his blue print for immigration changes nearly two years ago.

That plan never got out of Congress, but Thursday night, President Obama laid out new expansive executive actions on immigration. The new plan will spare nearly 5 million people in the U.S. illegally from deportation and refocus enforcement efforts on "felons, not families."

In the meantime, Nevada is definitely high on the list of states that have illegal immigrants. Pew Researchers did a study which revealed Nevada has the highest share of undocumented immigrants of any state. The study also found one in six Nevadan children have at least one parent who is in the country illegally.

There are more than 3,800 immigration cases pending in the Las Vegas federal immigration court alone. The backlog of deportation cases have delayed more than three years of action.

Jerry Stuchiner, a longtime local immigration attorney says the system has collapsed, and the president's plan will do little to ease the massive backlog of cases.

Stuchiner said there are however, things the president could do to help the United States Immigration Court in Las Vegas clear up the backlog and fix the system for good.

“I would like him to say he could work with Congress to get a legitimate immigration reform bill that would regularize people's status,” Stuchiner said.

The United States Immigration Court for Las Vegas is a very busy place, but there is only one judge who sits on the bench there. He handles 30 to 40 cases at a time, and the backlogs are divided into two different categories.

"There are two calendars for the judge. One calendar is for people who are being removed without criminal records; the other is for people who are in proceedings,” Stuchiner

The other calendar in the U.S. Immigration Court is for violent offenders who are also in this country illegally.

“It's backed up, the people are in the system and it takes them three to five years to get to the final hearing. Then there are appeals and so on and so forth,” said Stuchiner.

In July, Metro Police announced that they were going to stop holding people on immigration issues unless the federal government issued a warrant. Since then, numbers from the Department of Justice in regards to immigration court cases have begun to slow down.

The numbers of new immigration cases have climbed since 2008, but in 2011 the numbers started falling. By 2013 it fell to almost half of what they were in 2008.

However, Stuchiner said the system is still trying to catch up.

“They start today and they won't have final hearings until 2017; and then the appeals process goes,” he said.

Attorneys say it's not uncommon for immigration and deportation cases to stretch out close to 10 years, but so far, the Las Vegas immigration court has completed more than 2,000 cases this year.

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