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Immigration cases clog U.S. courts

PHOENIX, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Judges in Phoenix courts inundated with immigration cases find it hard to rule fairly under increasing pressure to decide cases quickly, legal analysts say.

Increased immigration enforcement efforts are creating a judicial backlog, which means delays of years deciding whether immigrants facing deportation can legally stay in the United States, The Arizona Republic reported Sunday.

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"There is a huge pressure to run through (cases) to maintain their dockets," immigration lawyer Gerald Burns said. "They have an immense pressure to keep their dockets in check."

For many immigrants awaiting a hearing, delays could hurt their cases. A witness could move, or a family member with ties to the United States could die, the Republic said.

Most cases involve immigrants who have been living in the United States for more than 10 years and have U.S. citizen children, factors making them eligible for "cancellation of removal."

To win cases, immigrants must convince a judge deportation would cause "exceptional and extremely unusual hardship" to a U.S. citizen spouse, parent or child.

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