Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School

Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Beth Henschen

Second Advisor

Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein


This thesis examines several aspects of the legal process that noncitizens confront while they navigate their way through the U.S. immigration courts. It begins with the structure of immigration courts including various sectors under the United States Department of Justice, which houses the Executive Office of Immigration Review and other administrative offices. Additionally, the processes performed in immigration courts (i.e. Master Calendar Hearings and Individual Hearings) are discussed. Subsequently, an exploration of the increase in backlogged immigration cases and the increase of the money being allocated to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection is included. Compared to these Department of Homeland Security enforcement sectors, there is a relative lack of funding for immigration courts. Given this, an assessment of the immigration courts' current problems, including lack of funding as well as the understaffing and retention of qualified immigration judges, is undertaken. Finally, the impact of these problems on immigrants, such as time spent in detention centers and potential solutions for addressing these problems are presented.