Asylum Seekers Gravely Stymied by Government Shutdown

Asylum seekers are among the worst casualties in the government shutdown that has exacerbated the nation’s already-backlogged immigration system. Due to President Trump’s demand for a border wall, the federal government is currently in the longest partial shutdown on record. The impasse is forcing the postponement of hearings for thousands of immigrants. For asylum applicants, this could translate to years more of waiting and separation from their families abroad.

Trump’s Counterproductive Immigration Policy

Not only does the government shutdown fail to further the President’s objective for immigration efficiency, it aggravates the backlog in immigration courts. Furthermore, it unwittingly serves the purpose of those immigrants the White House seeks most to deter. For those immigrants with little chance of legal status adjustment, the shutdown could help stave off deportation that much longer.

The Shutdown and Immigration Backlog

The shutdown has halted government services that aren’t deemed essential, including, in many cases, the immigration courts overseen by the Justice Department. Hearings that involve detained immigrants will still proceed. But numerous other proceedings have been postponed. And no one knows for how long. With 800,000 pending cases, the delay could continue for months, even years. According to a prominent Immigration Judge in California, there is no readily available place on her docket to reschedule postponed cases until at least 2022 or beyond.

The Asylum Dilemma

Some of the toughest cases immigration judges hear are claims for asylum, or protection from persecution. Many applicants with strong asylum claims have endured unspeakably suffering in the country from which they escaped, and now they continue to struggle in America with their petitions pending. The long wait time can be especially difficult since applicants cannot bring spouses or children to join them unless their asylum requests are approved. On the other hand, those with the weakest claims actually benefit from the delays, because they can remain in the U.S. and hold out hope of qualifying for legal status by some other means down the road.

If you’re worried about the possibility of a lengthy separation from your loved ones overseas, contact us today and schedule a consultation with one of our experienced immigration attorneys. We are standing by to find you the best solutions to your immigration concerns. Don’t wait any further!

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