Virginia has one of the longest backlogs of immigration and asylum cases in the country, according to court records.
WUSA9 Investigative Reporter Nathan Baca has covered Virginia’s immigration courts for the past four years and digs into whether things have changed.
Miguel Estramera entered the new immigration court in Sterling, Virginia on February 23. He was an undocumented immigrant arriving from Peru in 1998.
But after marrying, having two children – all US citizens – and becoming a construction site safety inspector, it took him several years to get this court hearing.
“After so many years of being, waiting for status in U.S., I consider myself a citizen. Because so many years they’ve been in here, but I’m so happy now. So excited,” said Estramera.
He was excited because he was granted the ability to stay, and not forced to return to Peru and leave his family.
“I feel very happy for him and will have a better future,” said his teenage son Lucas.
“I feel very relieved and really happy to know that we can all stay here as a family together,” replied his teenage daughter Mika.
Estramera’s wife Carla said she is so happy.
“We finally get to have the peace that we’re going to be finally living here,” she said.
But as a sign of just how backlogged Virginia’s immigration courts are, despite winning his case, Estramera still can’t get a visa because of the limited numbers available.
“Each year, there’s only 4,000 visas available for this type of application. And because we have so many new judges those visas are being taken a lot quicker than in the past,” said Estramera’s immigration attorney Eileen Blessinger.
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