Government shutdown stymies immigrants’ asylum cases

AP NEWS | 1/10/2019 | Staff
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The partial government shutdown over President Donald Trump’s demand for a border wall is playing havoc with the nation’s already backlogged immigration courts, forcing the postponement of hearings for thousands of immigrants.

For some of those asking for asylum in the U.S., the impasse could mean years more of waiting — and prolonged separation from loved ones overseas — until they get a new court date.

Immigrants - Chance - Bids - Country - Shutdown

But for those immigrants with little chance of winning their bids to stay in this country legally, the shutdown could help them stave off deportation that much longer — adding to the very delays the Trump administration has railed against.

“It is just dripping with irony,” said Sarah Pierce, policy analyst at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute. “This administration has put a lot of emphasis on speeding up court cases, and the shutdown obviously is just going to cause massive delays.”

Shutdown - Hundreds - Thousands - Government - Employees

The shutdown has furloughed hundreds of thousands of government employees and halted services that aren’t deemed essential, including, in many instances, the immigration courts overseen by the Justice Department.

Hearings involved detained immigrants are still going forward. But untold thousands of other proceedings have been postponed. No one knows for how long; it depends on when employees return to work and hearings can be reset.

Immigration - Experts - Cases - Months - Years

Immigration experts said cases could be delayed months or years since the courts have more than 800,000 pending cases, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, and many courtrooms are tightly booked.

Immigration Judge Dana Marks, former president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, said she has at least 60 hearings a day in her San Francisco courtroom and no space on her docket for at least the next three years.

Cases - Place

“The cases that are not being heard now — there is no readily available place to reschedule them until at least...
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