Media Tip Sheet: Immigration Courts Overwhelmed by Surge in Cases, Lawyer Shortage Worsens

May 21, 2024

A surge in migrants crossing the southern U.S. border has caused the immigration court backlog to swell to over 3.5 million cases, exacerbating a severe shortage of lawyers for asylum-seekers. 

Only about 30% of migrants now have legal representation, down from 65% five years ago, highlighting the challenges faced by individuals who struggle to navigate the complex legal system without adequate legal support.

Faculty experts at the George Washington University are available to provide context, commentary and analysis on this matter. If you would like to speak with an expert, please contact GW Media Relations Specialist Tayah Frye at [email protected] and Shannon Mitchell at [email protected].


Cori Alonso-Yoder is an Associate Professor of Fundamentals of Lawyering at the GW Law School. Alonso-Yoder is nationally recognized scholar on immigration legislation and the impacts of state, local and federal laws on immigrant communities. She specializes on the health policy of immigration.

Alberto Benítez is a Professor of Clinical Law; and Director of GW Law’s Immigration Clinic. Professor Benítez is an expert in Immigration Law. Benítez supervises students that handle a variety of immigration law matters including representing noncitizens, writing comments to proposed federal regulations, and disseminating information to the public. 

Immigration Policy

Elizabeth Vaquera is the inaugural Director of the Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute and an Associate Professor of Sociology and Public Policy and Public Administration at the George Washington University. Vaquera's research focuses on vulnerable and diverse groups, particularly Latinos/as and immigrants. Her work has analyzed the character and importance of immigrant status, race, and ethnic identity in outcomes such as education, health, and emotional and social well-being. In addition to an extensive body of work published in leading peer-reviewed journals, Vaquera is the co-author of several books, the most recent of which, Education and Immigration, examines the educational experiences of immigrants and their children living in the U.S.