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Immigration: Planning for a courtroom shutdown

April 8, 2011 |  7:51 pm

The U.S. Department of Justice isn't waiting until the last minute to come up with contingency plans in case the federal government shuts down. Officials are already talking about what to do about pending immigration cases heard daily.

A Justice Department spokesman said it would close most of the nation’s 59 immigration courts, leaving only those judges in place that review cases involving detained immigrants. And a review board will continue to handle emergency claims for stays from deportations.

Any talk of a shutdown is sure to rankle the nation’s 275 immigration judges, who already complain of having too many cases and too little time. The number of cases awaiting review by the immigration courts reached an all-time high of 261,083 by September 2010, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a research group affiliated with Syracuse University.

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--Sandra Hernandez

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