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February 24, 2010

Immigration court in TN can't keep up with caseload

By Janell Ross • THE TENNESSEAN • February 24, 2010

"Mario Ramos had heard stories. But last month, he finally saw for himself.

“It really looked like there were 1,000 people in that ICE line,” said Ramos, a Nashville immigration lawyer. “And those are just the people in Nashville who are on the wait list for an immigration court
date to be set.”

The immigration court has such a heavy caseload that hundreds of people recommended for deportation haven’t even been given a court date yet. They line up monthly at local immigration offices, where suspected illegal immigrants are asked to check in until a court date can be set.

After three years of stepped-up immigration enforcement, the overloaded court system isn’t keeping pace — and observers say almost nowhere in the country is the problem worse than in
Tennessee.

The Memphis-based immigration court — which handles most immigration matters in Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky and the northern half of
Mississippi — has one of the nation’s highest caseloads per judge. In 2008, the most recent year for which data are available, Memphis had only two judges to handle about 3,500 pending cases.

About four weeks ago, the situation in Memphis went from busy to something worse. One of the judges was reassigned to Arlington, Va. Now, while there is a judge in one Memphis courtroom, cases
assigned to the other are heard by a constantly rotating cast of judges around the country via video conference.

Less than two full months into 2010, just about any hearing requested is scheduled in 2011.

Family waits and hopes

Jose Resendiz is an illegal immigrant from Mexico with a story that highlights the problems in Tennessee and the need for real immigration reform, said his wife, Christy Resendiz.

He has lived in a state of limbo since his arrest in 2008.

Christy, a U.S. citizen, and Jose, a Mexican national, live with their two children in Greenback, Tenn., about 45 minutes from Knoxville. The couple married in July 2003 and started trying to adjust Jose’s legal status almost right away, Christy said. They expected it to be straightforward, since Jose had married an American citizen, but an ill-timed trip back to Mexico derailed the process...".

at; http://www.tennessean.com/article/20100224/NEWS03/100223128/2066

Posted by VisaLawyer at February 24, 2010 08:04 AM

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