A Critical Measure to Reduce the Backlog, Increase Efficiency, and Ensure Due Process in Removal Proceedings

This Policy Brief examines the beneficial impact of increased access to immigration court records in addressing inefficiencies and due process violations, including the backlog, in removal proceedings.


An April 2023 GAO report and recent news articles have highlighted the severe inefficiencies in the immigration court system, with the number of pending cases topping a historic high of nearly two million. This case backlog has wasted resources, impeded judicial efficiency, and left millions of noncitizens in legal limbo for several years, resulting in separated families, exploited or abused crime victims, and a lack of access to essential employees. These reports have called critical attention to the need for the Department of Justice (DOJ) Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), congressional representatives, and policymakers to take meaningful action to address the inefficiencies in the immigration court system. In addition to implementing commonly discussed measures such as hiring more immigration judges and prioritizing certain types of cases, effectively addressing the backlog also requires updating deficient immigration court procedures that lead to unnecessary delay.

In its work providing legal services to thousands of immigrants facing detention and removal and supporting immigration practitioners nationwide on records access issues, the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition has seen the critical role that incrementally improved access to records in immigration court has had on reducing inefficiency in the heavily backlogged immigration court system and safeguarding noncitizens’ due process rights.