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Backlog immigration cases reached historic 3 million, 50% increase from previous year

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Despite increased spending by the Department of Homeland Security, the cost of processing applications of immigrants increased from $345 million in 2022 to $765 million in 2023 with the number of pending cases rising. In November of 2023, the number of backlog immigration cases reached a historic number of 3 million. The number is a 50% increase from the previous year.

The November record of the Immigration Court backlog surpassed 3 million active cases; over a million of the cases had been added in just the prior 12 months. The Center Square reports the Department of Homeland Security increased the number of full-time employees working on application processing from 1,250 to 2,709. Application Processing offers support in decreasing application processing times, reducing the backlog and expanding humanitarian efforts.

The Fiscal Year 2024 President’s Budget includes another $264 million as well as adds 795 more positions to deal with backlogged cases. The Center Square adds that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services stated it had hired new staff, expanded overtime hours, and invested in information technology to improve the processing of cases.

Far from the southern border in Denver, Colorado, Mayor Mike Johnston said Tuesday that the cost to the state in 2024 will be $180 million to deal with the infusion of migrants. Johnston says the city had 150 buses arrive in December carrying migrants, with over 250 individuals arriving each day.

“This challenge is far larger than we have ever seen it before,” Johnston said. “The scale can feel overwhelming.” The issue is “unsustainable” says Johnston. “We are the closest, cheapest bus ticket from El Paso,” Johnston said. “It’s the cheapest ticket for [Texas] Governor [Greg] Abbott and anyone else to buy, so they just come to Denver. We think that is unsustainable for this city.”

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Immigration

DOJ federal indictment connects Sinaloa Cartel and Chinese ‘underground banking’

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The Justice Department (DOJ) announced a huge connection between Chinese organized crime and the Sinaloa drug cartel. In a press release the DOJ reported a 10-count superseding indictment charging Los Angeles-based associates of Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel with conspiring with money-laundering groups linked to Chinese underground banking to launder drug trafficking proceeds. During the conspiracy, more than $50 million in drug proceeds flowed between the Sinaloa Cartel associates and Chinese underground money exchanges.”

The indictment was the result of a multi-year investigation into the conspiracy—dubbed “Operation Fortune Runner”— unsealed on Monday charging a total of 24 defendants with one count of conspiracy to aid and abet the distribution of cocaine and methamphetamine, one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, and one count of conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business, according to the press release.

“Dangerous drugs like fentanyl and methamphetamine are destroying people’s lives but drug traffickers only care about their profits,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “To protect our community, therefore, it is essential that we go after the sophisticated, international criminal syndicates that launder the drug money. As this indictment and our international actions show, we will be dogged in our pursuit of all those who facilitate destruction in our country and make sure they are held accountable for their actions.”

“Drug traffickers generate immense amounts of cash through their illicit operations. This case is a prime example of Chinese money launderers working hand in hand with drug traffickers to try to legitimize profits generated by drug activities,” said Chief Guy Ficco of IRS Criminal Investigation. “We have made it a priority to identify, disrupt, and dismantle any money launderers working with drug cartels and we are committed to our partnerships with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to combat drug cartels and those who assist them in laundering drug proceeds.”

The Justice.Gov website explains of the indictment: “Following close coordination with the Justice Department, Chinese and Mexican law enforcement informed United States authorities that those countries recently arrested fugitives named in the superseding indictment who fled the United States after they were initially charged last year.”

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