The Trump administration recently affirmed that cases should be heard within 180 days, the statutory requirement. To meet this worthy goal, leaders across party lines should agree to increase the number of immigration judges and asylum officers. Many immigration-policy veterans, such as former Immigration and Naturalization Commissioner Doris Meissner, believe it would make sense to start by resolving the newest cases, to show potential asylum seekers that they wouldn’t be likely to get an extended stay in the U.S. while their cases await judgment. Many agree that if the review period can be shortened significantly, applicants should not receive work permits while their cases are adjudicated…

Changing the status quo will not be easy. Building detention camps in the U.S. for hundreds of thousands of applicants would be economically and politically costly. And because the bulk of this year’s surge has been made of up families rather than single adults or unaccompanied minors, any legal detention strategy would plunge the border back into the moral morass of family separations that the American people overwhelmingly rejected, for good reason.

While no option is attractive, the least flawed would be a system of case management along the lines of the parole system, using ankle bracelets and regular in-person reporting to immigration officials. Although this approach would be much cheaper (and more humane) than mass detention, it would still require a major investment to build the human and technical infrastructure.