Editor’s note: This story has been updated.
A new immigration court with 40 employees, including judges, will be opened in Indianapolis in 2023, the U.S. Department of Justice has confirmed with Indiana Lawyer.
Currently, immigration cases from Indiana are sent to the Chicago Immigration Court in Illinois. The new court will serve the state of Indiana, an Executive Office for Immigration public information officer told IL.
The immigration court will be located in the Minton-Capehart Federal Building, 575 N. Pennsylvania St. Additional details on the timeline, hiring plans and caseload are not available at this time, the PIO said.
The EOIR, a sub-agency of the DOJ, is responsible for adjudicating immigration cases. The agency, under the direction of the U.S. Attorney General, interprets and administers federal immigration laws by conducting immigration court proceedings, appellate reviews and administrative hearings.
The DOJ doesn’t break out the budget costs for opening individual immigration courts, but its fiscal year 2022 proposed budget requests an additional $177.5 million for “immigration-related program enhancements” which includes enhancing the expanding adjudicatory capacity.
There are currently 68 immigration courts across the country with 600 judges, according to the DOJ. The Chicago Immigration Court — which is assigned to cases from Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin — falls under the jurisdiction of the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge, which is a component of the EOIR under the DOJ.
Immigration judges are appointed by the U.S. Attorney General.
The news of the new Indianapolis court comes as immigration courts continue to be bogged down by a record number of cases.
According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, the current backlog of cases in immigration courts is at a record of almost 1.7 million in the U.S. The TRAC reports there are 185,322 pending cases in the Chicago court with 39,875 of those cases coming from Indiana.
“EOIR constantly monitors its caseload nationwide to meet the needs of all those with business before the agency and opening new immigration courts in high-volume areas is one way to meet our stakeholders’ needs,” Gail Montenegro, EOIR’s Midwest regional public information officer told IL.