I can only speak about the Boston immigration court. They’ve hired several new judges but all of them were previously prosecutors for DHS and therefore have to recuse themselves from any case they handled in any way before coming to the bench (and that turns out to be alot since multiple prosecutors wind up working on any given case). In addition, several judges have been out sick multiple times, which results in cases getting rescheduled.
Allow me to cite just one example. I have a Haitian client whose removal case was closed when she was granted Temporary Protected Status (allowing her to stay) She subsequently married a US citizen and is eligible for a green card. I filed a motion to reopen the case in December 2017 and it was granted in the spring of 2018. That judge than retired and the case was assigned to another judge (previously a DHS prosecutor) and I had an individual hearing scheduled for September 2019. At that hearing, the government attorney was unable to move forward because he had not yet received the file from the archives! The judge asked the government attorney if the database showed that he (the judge) had previously worked on the case and the answer was no. The case was then continued until November 2019. At that hearing, the judge revealed that he had looked into it and found that he had indeed worked on the case as a prosecutor and therefore had to recuse himself (apparently he hadn’t looked into it before the previous hearing). The case was assigned to another judge. That judge has missed multiple days (two this week) resulting in the rescheduling of her current cases. I have heard nothing about when my client’s application for a green cared will be heard but I doubt it will be this year.
The administration’s solution to the problem is impose minimum quotas on how many cases I judge is supposed to decide per year. It that results in curtailing the aliens’ due process rights, so be it (a feature, not a bug). The solution proposed by the immigration bar is (aside from hiring more judges) to move the immigration courts out of the executive branch (they’re currently part of the Justice Department) and give them independence by attaching them to the federal courts (similar to the bankruptcy courts). I doubt that will ever happen though. Sigh.