Let’s check in with immigration courts in the United States during the prolonged government shutdown in 2019. We are more than two weeks into the shutdown, and with no resolution in sight, many sectors of the U.S. government brace for what could be a long-lasting impact of the prolonged shutdown.
Immigration courts are among those who have been hit the most. Our Salt Lake City family immigration attorney at Familia America says that we are seeing the opposite effect U.S. President Donald Trump expected when he refused to sign a federal funding bill over his demand to include $5 billion for the construction of the border wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
One of the side-effects of the shutdowns is that people, who would have been deported after their court hearing, will have to remain in the country for months – and some even for years – to wait until immigration courts receive federal funding and their immigration cases are rescheduled for a later date after the shutdown ends.
“All of the immigration court hearings (excluding the most urgent ones) that were scheduled from December 22 will have to be rescheduled for a later date,” explains our experienced family immigration lawyer Salt Lake City. The shutdown has further burdened the immigration system, extending the backlog of immigration cases to an unprecedented level.
The unexpected side effect of the government shutdown
President Trump, a staunch advocate for securing U.S. borders by deporting illegal immigrants and criminals, definitely did not see this one coming. The shutdown is basically a loophole for those who would have been deported to remain in the U.S. for possibly years longer as they await a rescheduled court date.
If you are wondering how it all happened, let our Salt Lake City immigration lawyer explain. On December 22, which is the day when the partial government shutdown began, all of approximately 400 federal immigration judges in Utah and all across the U.S. have been furloughed. These judges acted as a judge in a backlog of over 800,000 pending cases ranging from green card-related disputes to deportations.
Court hearings will still be held for immigrants held in detention centers, but all other hearings scheduled during the government shutdown will be rescheduled at a later date. You will need only one glance at the current backlog of pending cases to understand that most of these rescheduled dates may go well beyond 2020.
Even prior to the government shutdown, back when all immigration judges were not furloughed, the average wait time for immigration court hearings was around 720 days, or almost two years.
Court hearings have yet to be rescheduled
“Interestingly enough,” says our family immigration attorney in Salt Lake City at Familia America, “A few of our clients had their court dates cancelled, but none have been rescheduled yet. This may be due to the fact that immigration courts are already busy for 2019, meaning that most cases will not be rescheduled until 2020.”
President Trump has previously lambasted the Catch and Release incentive, which allows immigrants to remain in the U.S. until their court date, and it sure seems that the Trump administration cannot do anything about it. With no end in sight for the shutdown, immigrants awaiting court hearings will be able to stay in the U.S. for years to come.
Are immigration agencies trying to deport you or your loved ones while you are waiting your court hearing to be rescheduled during the shutdown? Consult with our immigration lawyers at Familia America today. Call our offices at 801-656-9605.