New York City’s immigration court at Federal Plaza has long been the nation’s single busiest immigration court. But between September and November, its backlog grew by 4 percent to more than 105,000 cases, according to data collected by the research group TRAC at Syracuse University.

Nationally, the number of pending cases hit 809,041 by November 30th. TRAC said that’s almost a 50 percent increase compared to the 542,411 cases pending at the end of January, 2017 when President Trump took office. This figure does not include another 330,211 cases that could be added following a ruling by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions that essentially reactivated cases that were put on hold.

We did not receive a response to an inquiry about the new data from the Justice Department's Executive Office for Immigration Review, which runs the nation's immigration courts.

As Attorney General, Sessions hired dozens of new immigration judges in order to alleviate the backlog. He appointed 13 judges to New York City’s court, mostly to replace judges who retired. There are now a total of 36 immigration judges at Federal Plaza, compared to 29 in early 2017. These numbers don’t include the city’s other court on Varick Street for immigrants held in detention.

Some of New York’s new judges are able to schedule full hearings relatively quickly, because they don’t have as many cases on their dockets. They can see these cases in the spring of 2019, compared to more experienced judges who are scheduling them in 2021. But it doesn’t take long for a new judge’s backlog to grow. A few new judges are already scheduling full hearings in 2021.

Immigration lawyer Jake LaRaus called hiring more judges a “finger in the dike” because there are so many other problems in immigration court. He noted that the Trump Administration has imposed new quotas on the judges, forcing them to speed through their cases. Sessions also took away judges’ ability to manage their backlogs by putting cases on hold, temporarily if they needed more time.

“The current administration has demonstrated that it is less interested in fixing the immigration court system’s long-term issues and is more interested in forcefully turning it into an enforcement factory that churns out removal orders on its immigration judge conveyor belt,” LaRaus added.

Despite the enormous backlog in New York, the growth rate here pales in comparison to some immigration courts near the U.S.-Mexico border. In Eloy, Arizona, for example, the backlog grew by 144 percent in two months, with 1,281 pending cases as of the end of November.

The Eloy immigration court is connected to a detention center that took many migrants who crossed the border this year. These included parents separated from their children like Yeni Gonzalez-Garcia, a Guatemalan mom whose case made headlines when her three kids were sent to foster care in New York City.

The number of families crossing the border rose in 2018, despite the Trump Administration’s efforts to make it harder to cross and apply for asylum.

Beth Fertig is a senior reporter covering courts and legal affairs at WNYC. You can follow her on Twitter at @bethfertig.

Correction: Based on information from an outdated government website, this story initially stated that there are currently 34 immigration judges working at Federal Plaza, when in fact there are 36.