New Data: President’s Trump Government Shutdown Increased the Immigration Court Backlog By More Than Ten Percent

It is no secret that the United States immigration process can be frustratingly slow. An immigration backlog that is surging in recent years has only compounded this problem — especially in California, where the immigration court backlog has swelled well beyond 140,000 cases.

Earlier this week, this data was released, confirming the disruptive and destructive impact President’s Trump five-week shutdown of the federal government has had on this problem. According to reporting from CBS News, the government shutdown increased an already record-high backlog by more than ten percent.

Approximately 85,000 Immigration Hearings Were Cancelled

Based on new data from Syracuse University, observers assess that somewhere between 80,000 and 94,000 immigration hearings were cancelled as a direct result of the Trump Administration’s government shutdown. Immigration courts operated with emergency only personnel during much of the shutdown — cancelling the overwhelming majority of immigration hearings. For the most part, only hearings that involved people who had already been detained — typically deportation cases — were able to move forward on the normal schedule.

As a result of the disruption in immigration courts, the overall immigration court backlog now exceeds 830,000 cases. Alarmingly, Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) cautions that this number is almost certainly significantly lower than the true figure. Many immigration cases were simply not filed during the shutdown period, and thus are not yet reflected in the official data. For reference, TRAC notes that around 25,000 immigration cases are filed in a normal January. In January of 2019, only 5,600 immigration cases were reported as being filed. TRAC infers that the gap will likely be made up by a rush of additional immigration filings that will be submitted in February and March of this year.

The Frustration of an Immigration Delay

Dealing with a delay on an immigration application or dealing with a cancellation of an immigration case puts a tremendous amount of stress on a person and their family. It is clear that additional reforms are needed to make our immigration system work better for the people who it is supposed to serve. Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to move up the date of an immigration hearing. Though, for those are currently waiting for a response from a U.S. immigration agency, a writ of mandamus lawyer may be able to help. The government must be held accountable.

Find Out if You Can Expedite the Immigration Process

If you are facing a delay in your immigration application, there may be effective steps that you can take to expedite the process. Our top-rated California immigration lawyer is standing by, ready to help you assess all of your available options. At the Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein, PC, we are committed to fighting for the rights and interests of immigrants. To set up a strictly confidential initial consultation, please reach out to us at our Los Angeles office today, (213) 262-2000.