People in Georgia who must go to immigration court might be more likely to appear before a less experienced judge than they would have been in previous years. By the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 35 immigration judges throughout the country left office, and this was a record number. Furthermore, since records started being kept in 1997, turnover is at its highest.
There are a number of possible reasons for this turnover. The backlog of cases has never been so large. Furthermore, judges are often evaluated by quotas and deadlines introduced by the Trump Administration, which creates significant pressure for them. While some judges may be able to get through 1,000 cases or more per year if they are straightforward, other judges will struggle to get through more than a few hundred complex cases.
In response to both the turnover and the growing backlog, more immigration judges have been hired than ever before. However, these are often less experienced judges, and they may lack the institutional knowledge to predict what could happen to a case several years later and how the case may be viewed by an appellate court. A further complication for potential immigrants is that there might be fewer categories of legal relief open to them.
People who are seeking to remain in the country, either through family connections, work, investment, a refugee program or other reasons might want to consult an attorney. The complications and fast-changing nature of immigration law mean that even individuals with friends or family members who have recently been through the process may not get the most up-to-date information from them. An attorney may keep an individual apprised of current laws and assist in preparing documentation and meeting any other requirements.