The Government Shutdown Continues to Impact Immigration Courts

Now that the government has been shut down for 4 weeks, immigration courts continue to remain closed.

This is just the latest obstacle immigrants are facing in a system that has limited due process and seen an increased backlog of cases. Despite the serious issues that immigrants are encountering, the President and his administration have contributed to the shutdown that has resulted in the closure of more than 90% of immigration courts in the country. With the shutdown, tens of thousands of cases have to be rescheduled, which puts significant strain on those impacted by the major backlog.

Although the government is shut down, agencies can still require workers who have been deemed “essential” to report for work. As a result, only immigration judges who oversee detainment cases have been labeled “essential.” Detainment cases involve non-citizens who are being held in detention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Because the government is still shut down, all non-detained immigration cases scheduled in courts have been canceled.

When the government shutdown in 2013, more than 37,000 cases had to be rescheduled. The number of immigration judges has actually increased by one third since then, which means the impact of the current shutdown will be more significant.

Although thousands of cases have been forced to reschedule, not every case will be affected in the same way. Most of the canceled hearings will be for “master calendar hearings.” These are short hearings where immigrants show up in court to resolve procedural matters. The hearings are expected to be rescheduled within months.

However, some immigrants face the possibility of having to wait for years to get their new hearing. With so many backlogged cases, those who are seeking relief from deportation orders often have to wait at least 2 years for their new trial date. Trials that were canceled because of the shutdown might be sent to the back of the line, meaning defendants will have to wait for another two to three years before their case can be heard.

Although the shutdown means more trouble for some immigrants, others are benefitting from the vacant courts. Since non-detained immigration courts have to be shut down, the judges in those courts can’t issue deportation orders. As a result, these individuals can remain in the United States until they are given a hearing at a later date.

Get Help From an Immigration Lawyer in Cleveland

At Sintsirmas & Mueller Co. L.P.A. we understand that the government shutdown has affected the lives of immigrants in our community. That is why we are here to assist you and guide you through the immigration obstacles you have encountered. We are committed to serving clients in Cleveland, and we have the skills and resources that you need to protect your rights and interests. Let us put our experience to work for you today.

Call (888) 491-8770 to schedule a consultation with an immigration lawyer to discuss the details of your case. We have locations in Cleveland and Twinsburg.