The immigration court backlog topped 3 million cases as of the beginning of 2024, as reported by the USA Today.  Also reported was the Biden  budget hired 300 new Immigration Judges, and requested funds for another  150. The present judges have 4000  caseloads and work for an agency of the Department of Justice. Cases are being scheduled out to 2031. Those are scheduled cases, another 6 million more are not scheduled and are pending .  A total of Nine million cases and counting. 

            Leaving off how the Immigration courts have arrived at this backlog, such as open borders, moving illegal immigrants around states, present policies ignoring health and background checks, overstaying visas, and more, I’ll suggest an approach to the backlog.

            Consider that the 9 million hearings, may result in 9 million appeals at the next level and 9 million more at the level above that.  The true backlog approaches 27 million hearings and appeals.

            The previous business model of hiring immigration judges is insufficient to process the 27 million actions in our lifetimes.

            Here is an alternative, first, glean thru the existing judges employed by the Federal Government, about 5,000 including Administrative Law Judges, Magistrates, Judge advocates, and more.  These can be ‘detailed’ from their agencies to the Department of Justice for any length of time from 2 weeks to the end of the project.

            The next consideration is to use some, most or all of the 200,000 attorneys working for or retired from the Federal government.  The District of Columbia bar and the California bar each have more than 200,000 members.  Actually there is no constitutional requirement that Judges be lawyers, even though the organized bar has taken over a third branch of  the Government.

            Attorneys have specialties. Immigration is a specialty but does not take weeks, much  less years of experience, to prepare for the law.  The  Department of Justice runs a one day training seminar on immigration law to assist attorneys who will practice before the immigration court.  The seminar is about 8 hours, and that, with other prior legal experience, means you are good to go.

            How many attorneys are required to wade thru the 27 million cases and appeals? If the Judges do 4 cases  a business day, that figures 20 per week and 1,000 a year. 1 case per business day is about 250 cases a year.  At 1,000 cases a year, their civil process requires 27,000 man years of labor, or 27,000 attorney judges for 1 year, 14,000 judges for 2 years, 7,000 judges for  4 years.  At 250 cases a year, the civil process requires about 110,000 man years of labor, or 110,000 attorney judges for 1 year, or 25,000 judge man years for 4 years.  These estimate  are for the existing backlog. 

            New cases will continually  come in during the processing, and are running at about 100,000  a month, so in 4 years, the backlog would get about another fresh  15 million cases and appeals

            How much might this cost?  Based on high volume dockets with Medicare and social security, the cost for a  Judge per case is about $500. Attorneys could be invited to sit as judges for $500 each and make a record. The  rest of the overhead, electronics, communications, printing, space,  furniture, leave, benefits, do add to the cost. 

            In summary, the assignment of a hundred thousand attorneys as immigration judges could  bring the backlog current in under two years.  For  attorneys who are federal employees, they can be detailed to Immigration with  no new legislation.   The cost will be well under 3 billion dollars, a fraction of the cost of free health care, free housing, and free board, which will be spent for the petitioners before the 2031 hearings.