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From Tucson to Iowa

Lack of judges and two-state case load contribute to immigration wait times

A recent report by the TRAC Immigration project showed that immigrants in Nebraska have the third longest wait in the country for immigration hearings. We asked local immigration lawyer Amy Peck why the average case in Nebraska takes nearly a year and a half to come to court. “The Omaha immigration court serves cases from both Iowa and Nebraska and the case load is very high,” she says. And it only has two full-time judges, plus a third who video-conferences part-time from Chicago. The small number of judges, compared to the relatively high volume of cases, has resulted in a backlog for non-detained cases, she says. Cases for would-be immigrants who are being held in jail move much faster — about 90-180 days, she says. As of Sept. 27, 4,054 pending immigration cases were pending in the Omaha immigration court — including Iowa cases. Seventy percent of those involved immigrants from Mexico or Guatemala. Nationwide, 23 states have no immigration courts and share resources with a neighboring state. Nebraska ranks second in average wait time among courts who hear cases from more than one state, trailing only Massachusetts.

posted at 05:24 pm
on Wednesday, December 01st, 2010

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