While lawmakers on Capitol Hill debate immigration reform, some illegal aliens here in Houston have been waiting two years to have their case heard.

As of November, the four judges at downtown's immigration court had more than 16,000 cases still pending.

That leaves many immigrants just hanging around, part of Houston's underground economy.

"They're not working legally because they don't have a status, they're not driving legally because they can't get a driver's license," says local immigration attorney Gordon Quan.

"They're neither fish nor fowl," he tells KTRH News. "They're not adjudicated, but they're not legal at the same time, so they're stuck."

Quan wants lawmakers to better prioritize who comes into our country.

"Maybe we don't need brothers and sisters to come to the United States, maybe we need more skilled workers, well let's make those changes," he says.

Quan says its time the system catches up with the global economy.