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>> Early in his term, President Trump signed executive orders expanding the definition of those he considered a priority for deportation adding to an already massive backlog in the system. A Reuters review of an immigration court data shows there are over 600,000 cases waiting to be decided. And since Trump took office, there has been a 20% increase.
Reuters' Reed Levinson.>> Under the Obama administration, they prioritized cases for criminals or for recent border crossers. And those were cases that moved really fast through the system. And now, under the Trump administration cases are no longer being put on pause so everything is on the docket in immigration court.
>> The Trump White House sharply refers to an Obama era practice known as administrative closure where judges can indefinitely shelve low priority deportation cases. I.e., those with deep ties to the United States, those who are applying for visas are waiting on status, or those who have not committed serious crimes.
>> If you're an immigrant and you've been granted this, it means you no longer have to show up to court for your hearings, for regular hearings, but you're not off the hook completely. So you're not allowed to remain in the country. It doesn't give you a status of some sort, you're not eligible for a green card.
It just means that your deportation case is temporarily on pause.>> While Trump hasn't issued an actual directive to end administrative closure, his orders broadening who's a priority for deportation, some immigration lawyers say, has led government prosecutors to begin strongly pushing back against any move that would close a case.
A trend illustrated in Reuters' analysis. That means non-violent immigrants with deep ties to the United States, many who have been living in the country for years, will be subject to drawn out court proceedings that could ultimately end in deportation.