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Immigration Impact of Government Shutdown-Court Backlogs

The partial government shutdown which began on December 22, 2018 is affecting immigration-related agencies differently. Although the impacts are changing on a day-to-day basis, the following appears to be settling as the status quo:

  1. Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR): All hearings for non-detained cases are being canceled on a day-to-day basis, with no rescheduling until operations resume. Overall, filings for non-detained dockets will be time-stamped as received and will not be rejected, but they will not be put into the system. However, some court windows are closing and will not accept any filings except for emergencies in detained cases. Some court personnel will continue working to allow processing of detained immigrants to continue; the detained docket will proceed as usual.
  1. Customs and Border Protection (CBP): will continue working on the borders and ports of entry. However, web-based services appear to be limited or stopped for the time-being.
  1. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS): Interviews are going forward as scheduled. CIS will continue to process applications and petitions for most immigration benefits during the shutdown, with the following exceptions:
  1. EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program (not the EB-5 Program)
  2. E-Verify
  3. Conrad 30 Waiver Program for J-1 medical doctors. The expiration only affects the date by which the J-1 doctor must have entered the U.S.; it is not a shutdown of the Conrad 30 program entirely.
  4. Non-minister religious workers
  1. Asylum Offices: Remain open for business as usual.
  1. Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO): Appears to be functioning as normal. OSUP and ISAP check-ins should appear as scheduled. Removals are still being carried out. However, capacity seems to be reduced.

From this breakdown, it is clear that the immigration courts are showing the most significant negative impact of the shutdown. Prior to the shutdown, the courts already had a record-high backlog of over 800,000 cases. Now, cases are now being placed in indefinite limbo, exacerbating the situation. As CBP, CIS, and the asylum office are still operating basically business as usual, cases will continue to be added to the court dockets—even though there are no resources to handle them.

EOIR Case Backlog

Source: (accessed 1/3/19)