More than 80,000 immigration court hearings were canceled during the partial government shutdown from December 22, 2018 to January 25. While the government is now reopened until February 15, a report by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) states that 809,041 active cases were already backlogged as of November. Immigration judge Dana Leigh Marks stated that the shutdown’s effect is “devastating” and estimates that it could add three or four years to the wait before those canceled hearings can be rescheduled.
According to TRAC figures as of January 11, immigration courts in California experienced the most hearing cancellations: an estimated 9,424. New York had the second highest number of cancellations, at 5,320. Texas was close behind New York with an estimated 5,141 immigration court proceedings canceled.
The fee-based U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services remained open during the shutdown. Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program services remained operational during the shutdown, and SAVE said users should continue to submit cases to verify an applicant’s immigration or citizenship status.
The Department of State said that scheduled passport and visa services in the United States and at U.S. embassies and consulates overseas continued during the shutdown “as the situation permit[ted].” E-Verify announced, “E-Verify has resumed operations. Given that E-Verify was unavailable for over a month, we ask for your patience as we reinstate the service.”