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AILA: Immigration Court Computer Failure Emphasizes Need for Increased Funding

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 21, 2014

CONTACTS:
George Tzamaras
202-507-7649
gtzamaras@aila.org
Belle Woods
202-507-7675
bwoods@aila.org

AILA: Immigration Court Computer Failure Emphasizes Need for Increased Funding

WASHINGTON, DC — The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) welcomed the news that the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) has fixed the month-long computer system failure that had plagued the country's immigration courts.

"AILA members and their clients were more than patient because we believed that EOIR was working in good faith to address the computer and hotline meltdown," said AILA President Doug Stump. "We cheered the announcement this week that some initial fixes have been made. But the reality is that the breakdown delayed cases and created unnecessary bottlenecks. For more than a month we had a broken computer system to go along with our broken immigration system."

During the outage, which the agency attributed to a "catastrophic" hardware failure, the Board of Immigration Appeals was reportedly continuing to handle cases, but was forced to prioritize cases as a result of having to rely on manual processes. Needless to say, many of those manual processes proved to be inadequate and put the court system even further behind its existing 360,000 case backlog. While EOIR reports that all data has been restored, AILA members will be checking their cases and stand ready to assist as they can in reconstructing any missing information.

Mr. Stump noted, "This meltdown was a result of the chronic underfunding of our immigration court system during a surge in enforcement. If you needed proof that the courts require more resources, we got it in spades. A federal government function shouldn't be forced to downgrade to manual processes as though we've fallen decades back in time. This system needs to work efficiently and effectively. Funding needs to be sufficient to ensure that this kind of systemic failure doesn't happen again."

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The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 14052100.