According to the Transaction Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), there have been 42,726 immigration court hearings canceled because of the U.S. government shutdown. Immigrants in California and throughout the country have waited as long as four years to have those hearings. There will likely be another long wait for a hearing as there are more than 800,000 cases waiting to be heard. It’s unclear if this will be a good or bad thing for those individuals.
Some may relish the chance of being able to push a hearing back until following the next presidential election. However, others may worry about the pressure to self-deport until their cases have been heard by a judge. The shutdown is not the only reason why the immigration case backlog has swelled. However, some believe that President Trump was not ready for the secondary impacts that it has had on the country.
If the shutdown were to continue until the end of January, roughly 108,112 immigration cases would get kicked off schedule. Other initiatives aimed at reducing the backlog of immigration cases with no trial date have also proven unsuccessful. While the rate at which new immigration cases have come in has slowed, cases have taken longer to process. Although the rate had increased prior to Trump taking office, it had increased at a slower rate.
Any immigrant who is seeking legal status in the United States may wish to have an attorney help with his or her case. The same may be true for those who have legal status but have been selected for deportation. An attorney could review a case to determine if an individual has any basis for disputing a deportation. This may allow the immigrant to live or work in the country.