On December 22, 2018, parts of the government shut down after Congress and the White House failed to agree on a spending deal. One month later, the government shutdown continues and, as of January 12, 2019, was recorded as the longest in U.S. history. The government shutdown has had a negative impact on many agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and has had devastating effects on an already backlogged immigration court system. According to a recent report, almost 43,000 immigration court hearings have been canceled as a result of the shutdown.
The report, released by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearing House which tracks immigration court data, showed an estimated 42,726 scheduled immigration cases were not heard between December 24, 2018, and January 11, 2019. The report’s estimate is based on the number of court hearings that were scheduled, dating to November 30. As reported by CNN, the Clearing House report is not an official statistic, but is the first detailed analysis that reveals the effects of the shutdown on an immigration court system that has already faced severe backlog.
According to the Clearing House report, if the shutdown continues through the end of January, as many as 100,000 will have their hearings postponed. According to National Public Radio, New York State and New Jersey are among the 10 states experiencing the most immigration cancelations.
Each day the government shutdown continues, thousands of more immigration cases are added to an already overwhelming active case backlog. According to the Clearing House report, the active case backlog stands at 809,041 as of the end of last November. Since President Trump took office, the immigration case backlog has risen almost 50 percent.
Many of the individuals who are impacted by the cancelation may have already waited for two, three, or four years for their immigration court hearing, according to the Clearing House report. John Burnett, Southwest Correspondent for National Public Radio, reported that those who have had their immigration hearings canceled or postponed may have to wait until 2022 for their day in court.
If you are an individual who has applied for a green card or has petitioned for naturalization or citizenship but has not received a decision, you may be able to request a writ of mandamus. As mentioned in a previous blog, a writ of mandamus can be issued by a judge at the petitioner’s request when the authority of a higher court is needed to compel an action by an individual, a government agency, or a lower court to do something they are legally required to do. Although an extreme measure, a writ of mandamus can be very effective when all else has failed.
The law office of Bretz & Coven, LLP has over 20 years of experience filing mandamus requests with federal District Courts in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, compelling the USCIS to take action on cases that have been delayed or stuck in the docket. In most cases, our immigration attorneys will get an adjudication within 120 days of filing. For more information or to schedule a consultation with our New York immigration lawyers or our New Jersey immigration lawyers, call (212) 267-2555 today.