The government shutdown has led to the cancellation of nearly 43,000 immigration hearings as of last week, burdening an already backlogged system, according to data from researchers tracking immigration statistics.
Between Christmas Eve and January 11, an estimated 42,726 immigration court hearings have been canceled, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC).
As the shutdown drags into its 25th day on Tuesday, the canceled hearings will likely grow by another 20,000 each week, according to researchers. This means as many as 100,000 people could be affected if the shutdown lasts through the month.
While hearings for detained immigrants are proceeding as scheduled during the shutdown, hearings for immigrants who have been released from government custody will be reset for later dates when funding resumes, according to the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review.
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The TRAC researchers said this means that immigrants impacted by the cancellations may “have already being waiting two, three, or even four years for their day in court.”
“Since few cases are being resolved during the shutdown, each week the shutdown continues the practical effect is to add thousands of cases back onto the active case backlog, which had already topped eight-hundred thousand (809,041) as of the end of last November,” said the researchers.
Some of the states most impacted by the cancellations were California, New York, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Virginia, according to TRAC.
In California, the state with the highest number of affected hearings, an estimated 9,424 were canceled. New York, which had the second highest, saw about 5,320 hearings canceled.
If the shutdown were to last through January, California could see nearly 25,000 immigrants’ hearings canceled and around 10,000 or more in New York, Texas and Florida, according to TRAC.
The shutdown, now the longest in U.S. history, has stretched into its fourth week after President Donald Trump vowed to shut down the government if he did not get funding for a border wall.
Democrats have said they will negotiate border security with the president only after the rest of the government has been opened. About 800,000 federal workers are affected by the government shutdown.
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