A deluge of Central American children pouring into the United States threatens to burst the seams of already overstuffed immigration courts, and President Barack Obama’s steps to ease the crisis are likely to make matters worse rather than better for some, U.S. officials and immigration lawyers said.

“We are reaching a point of implosion, if we have not already reached it,” said Judge Dana Leigh Marks of San Francisco, who has been deciding immigration cases since 1987 and is president of the National Association of Immigration Judges.

The problem, according to judges, lawyers and immigration groups, is the sheer number of cases clogging the courts, due in part to beefed-up law enforcement at the southwestern U.S. border with Mexico.

U.S. immigration courts have a backlog of 375,373 cases, almost 50,000 more than they faced two years ago, according to Justice Department figures.

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