INDIO – It’s supposed to bea short wait to see immigration attorney Karen Kler. But for 200 of his clients, the wait to find out if they’ll be deported is way too long.
“I go to court, the judge says we’ll see you back June 2010. I’m writing down, the brain is not registering. He said June 2010 your honor? He goes, ‘Yes, June 2010,'” says Kler.
It’s twoyears,five years or even a decade before some will learn their fate. Immigration enforcement keeps courtrooms full. Another reason for the back log is that there are not enough judges and courtrooms. The Larsen Justice Center in Indio just won’t do, so people have to drive all the way to Los Angeles to a federal immigration to have their case delayed.
Kler says around 30 percent of delayed cases could be handled without a judge. He also says documentinghonest, hard working undocumented workers would also ease the backlog of immigration cases. But it comes with a cost to the tune of $10,000 to document a family of four. It’sa financial and emotional cost on families facing the possibility of getting ripped from the lives they’ve built in America.
“And to draw that threat out over a period of three and a half years, it’s called slow torture and it tortures the whole family,” says Kler.
The frustration of waiting has some giving up and voluntarily leaving the country. A man, who only identified himself as “Taz,” says his father never gave up hope. His father recently got a green card.
“It was hard for him. He had to work. He’s a hard working man. He’s been working forever,” says Taz.
And Kler hopes the courts won’t have to work forever to ease the backlog of cases.