Is your case stuck in administrative process for years? We can help you by completing this form

Federal Shutdown halts civil, immigration cases in courts

Spread the love

With immigration courts already backlogged and overflowing with cases, the government shutdown closing immigration courts except for the most pressing cases is only creating longer lines for immigrants waiting for their turn in court.

Most immigration courts closed except for criminal cases

The Justice Department issued a directive ordering government attorneys who handle criminal cases to continue without interruption in order “to maintain the safety of human life and the protection of property.” The rest of the pending cases are postponed until the government is up and running again. Currently the attorneys’ offices are operating at 63 percent of their normal staffing levels and this is including both lawyers and non-lawyers. Due to furloughs, many high-profile cases nationwide have been delayed. The Federal Trade Commission lawyers in Chicago told the judge they were not getting paid so they had to postpone their hearing to a later date.

Lawyers trying to cut back on cases

For the most part criminal cases are not to be impacted, but one U.S. Attorney recently created a stir when she issued guidelines saying that immigrant smuggling cases would not be prosecuted unless it involved death or serious injury. Non-marijuana drug smuggling cases would not be prosecuted either if the suspect in custody had a “border crossing card.” In fact, no marijuana cases were to be prosecuted at all. However, after the press found out about these stipulations, Duffy’s office took back the statement saying all prosecutions of immigrant and drug smuggling offenses would be restored. "Our initial contingency plan was not going to allow us to maintain our regular intake of criminal cases, so we sought and received authorization from DOJ to exempt more of our criminal division staff from furloughs," Duffy said. The majority of other immigration courts have been closed although hearings are taking place for those held in detention.

Cases rescheduled years ahead

Because of the closures, many immigrants who are either fighting deportation or seeking asylum are not getting their cases heard. Many people have been waiting for years to get a chance to be heard in court but advocates say they will just have to wait longer. "If you had your case set for today and you can't appear because the court is not open, you could likely have your continuance set out a year or more," said Gregory Chen, director of advocacy for the American Immigration Lawyers Association. "It's not just show up next Tuesday. It's show up in 2014 or 2015."

If you have questions regarding deportation, applying for a visa or the changing immigration laws, contact us at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page.

You May Also Like

April 2024 USCIS Fees Increase: What You Need To Know Spread the love The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced a significant increase in fees for various immigration applications and services. This move has sparked concerns... VIEW POST
ICE Detainee Locator: A Guide To Finding Someone In Custody Spread the love Experiencing the detention of a friend or family member by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can be a distressing and confusing time. The uncertainty of their... VIEW POST
EB3 Visa Process: For Professionals, Skilled, and Unskilled Workers Spread the love The EB3 visa category is an employment-based immigrant visa. It is a pathway for professionals, skilled workers, and unskilled workers who want to obtain permanent residency... VIEW POST

Download Free Guide 
2023 Immigrant’s Guide to 
Becoming a U.S. Citizen

This guide contains all you need to know to become  
a U.S. citizen.

Download Free Guide 2022 Immigrant’s Guide to Becoming a U.S. Citizen

This guide contains all you need to know
to become a U.S. citizen.

Answers Show
Live every week.