The high costs of illegal immigrants filing deportation appeals in federal courts are paid by U.S. taxpayers, a little-known fact but a major driver in the escalation of cases that are clogging the legal docket, according to experts.

"Aliens should not be given more rights and better conditions than U.S. citizens," said Hans von Spakovsky, an expert on immigration and a former member of the Federal Election Commission.

Decrying the special treatment courts provide to illegals, he told a Center for Immigration Studies panel on Tuesday that unlike American citizens, undocumented immigrants don't have to pay most court costs, such as for records and transcripts, and the $110 filing fee is typically waived.

"American taxpayers are subsidizing the appeals of all these cases," said von Spakovsky.

He said that nearly all deportation decisions from the Board of Immigration Appeals are challenged. "That's because there's no cost to the illegal aliens. The filing fee is very low, to file an appeal it's $110," he said, citing a judge's recent congressional testimony. "However in a majority of cases that fee is waived," he added.

"Second the alien isn't charged for copies of the records or charged for copies of the transcripts, all of these are costs are paid for by the Department of Justice, and that means American taxpayers. So American taxpayers are subsidizing the appeals costs of all of theses cases, something that does not happen if an ordinary U.S. citizen is involved in a federal lawsuit," said von Spakovsky.

"There is absolutely nothing to stop the filing of frivolous and meritless cases," he added.

The Center for Immigration Studies panel addressed several other issues, including its recent report on the lack of immigration judges and the resulting case backlog.

Currently 334 judges are handling 610,000 cases, an average of 1,800 each.

Immigration Judge Lawrence O. Burman, also the secretary treasurer of the National Association of Immigration Judges, said he has a backlog of 6,000-7,000 cases, so many he's been told to stop scheduling more past 2020. As a result, he has set up a second, post-2020 calendar where he is penciling in future cases.

"I'm not going to live long enough" to get through them all, he joked.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at