Government shutdown cancels over 40,000 immigration hearings
Many immigrants live in Texas, and those who have been waiting for their immigration hearings will have to wait longer. The government shutdown that began in December 2018 has forced immigration courts to cancel 42,726 hearings according to figures collected by the Transaction Records Access Clearinghouse.
These cancellations have happened to people who have already waited two to four years for their hearings. Now their cases will probably fall to the bottom of the list of people awaiting immigration hearings. The cases clogging immigration courts have already ballooned to over 800,000 cases. If the government shut down persists until the end of January, TRAC predicts that 108,112 immigration cases will suffer continued delays.
The case backlog had grown throughout 2018 due to policy changes from the Trump Administration. Although the federal government had intended to speed up case processing, the policy changes took away judges’ authority to make swift administrative decisions. The canceled hearings might place some immigrants at risk of arrest due to the aggressive tactics of authorities. Other people caught in limbo might hope that the delay gives them a chance for a hearing in a couple years when the political climate for immigrants might be different.
The upheaval and uncertainty surrounding the federal government could leave a person with questions about how to deal with immigration issues. The advice of an attorney might help someone make decisions about how to cope with the threat of deportation or accomplish what should be a routine task like renewing a work visa. Legal support might reduce friction within the immigration system and prevent authorities from violating a person’s rights.
Source: Think Progress, “Trump’s shutdown is adding 20,000 cases per week to the record-high immigration court backlog“, Alan Pyke, Jan. 14, 2019