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Immigration Cases For Unaccompanied Minors Strain Courts

DENVER (CBS4) - Immigration cases involving unaccompanied minors are clogging one of the Denver area's two immigration courts, records obtained by CBS4 indicate.

There are nearly 8,000 immigration cases backlogged in the immigration court in downtown Denver. Nationwide, there are 400,000 cases in a backlog.

"It's creating another extreme crisis within the immigration court system throughout the United States to deal with all these additional cases," David Kolko, the chairman of the Colorado chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said.

The second court is located at an immigrant detainment facility, operated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in Aurora. That court is meeting its goal of hearing 85 percent of the cases within 60 days of charges being filed.

Immigrant courts in Denver are short two judges due to retirement.

"Whether these people legitimately have the opportunity to stay in the United States, to have a resolution of those claims is now taking years," Kolko said.

Officials have created a triage system to deal with the crisis. Priority goes to those with unaccompanied minors, followed by those involving criminal matters.

"These aliens are afforded every due process and administrative right, and it takes forever to complete these cases sometimes," Mike Riebau, a former federal immigration agent, said.



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