Government shutdown may affect removal hearings

The most recent federal government shutdown that began just before Christmas 2018 has had a major effect on many individuals in the nation, including some in Kentucky. The fact that many federal employees aren’t being paid has been given a lot of attention in the news. However, another sector of people — migrants awaiting a hearing on their immigration status — are also being impacted by the government shutdown.

The U.S. Department of Justice has stated that during the federal government shutdown, only cases for migrants who are currently detained will be heard. Cases for migrants who have been released from detention but remain in the U.S. will not be heard during the shutdown. This means that some migrants who have been waiting for years for their day in court will have to wait longer, and the backlog in cases being heard in the nation’s immigration courts will grow larger.

It is not yet apparent whether furloughed judges will receive retroactive pay once the government shutdown comes to an end. In the meantime, according to data from the University of Syracuse, there are over 809,000 immigration cases in our nation still awaiting a hearing. Every day in the 2018 fiscal year, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained more than 42,000 individuals. It is important that those facing deportation and removal have a fair hearing, but as of right now many are still waiting to see that day come.

The government shutdown will drag on the cases of many in the U.S. with unresolved immigration status who are awaiting a hearing. As the government shutdown continues, the nation will have to wait to see compromise and many migrants with unresolved immigration status will have to continue to wait to see their day in court.