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If you are currently in removal (deportation) proceedings or know someone who is, your likely wait for a hearing date -- which was already around 578 days, based on national averages reported by Hector Becerra of the L.A. Times -- just may have gotten longer.
The reason shouldn't surprise anyone who has read the news lately. An unprecedented influx of young would-be immigrants to the U.S. from El Salvador, Guatemala, and other areas south of the U.S. border has put a strain on the U.S. immigration court system, which is trying to balance humanitarian and enforcement priorities.
In response, the Department of Justice announced on July 8, 2014 that it would reprioritize the U.S. Immigration Court (EOIR)'s handling of various types of cases. Here's a summary of the portions of the announcement relevant to anyone awaiting an immigration court hearing:
A crisis like this creates risks for everyone in the system, as files get reshuffled and delays stretch longer. The most important thing for anyone awaiting a hearing is to make sure to advise the court of any changes in your address, and keep track of your case status, to make sure you don't miss out on a rescheduling. Failure to appear at an immigration hearing almost always causes the judge to issue an order of removal.