Immigration Law

Cancelled Immigration Court Hearings Grow as Shutdown Continues

TRAC, Jan. 14, 2019

"Since the beginning of the federal government shutdown, most Immigration Court hearings have been cancelled. As of January 11, the estimated number of cancellations reached 42,726. Each week the shutdown continues, cancelled hearings will likely grow by another 20,000. As many as 100,000 individuals awaiting their day in court may be impacted if the shutdown continues through the end of January. See Table 1.

Table 1. Immigration Court Hearings
As of Shutdown Week Scheduled Hearings Cancelled
Dec 24 - 28 5,579
Dec 30-Jan 4 16,987
Jan 7 - 11 42,726
Jan 14 - 18 67,427
Jan 21 - 25 86,192
Jan 28-Feb 1 108,112
Feb 4 - Feb 8 129,490
Feb 11 - 15 149,434
Feb 18 - 22 165,301
Feb 25-Mar 1 185,071
 

The magnitude of the shutdown's effect - termed "devastating" by Immigration Judge Dana Leigh Marks - is based upon detailed analyses of court records by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University[1]. Individuals impacted by these cancellations may have already being waiting two, three, or even four years for their day in court. Judge Marks, former president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, in an interview January 9 on PBS estimated that it could add another three or four years to the wait for immigrants who are on her docket before their hearing can be rescheduled[2].

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."