True extent of US government shutdown on immigration revealed

Last year’s US government shutdown, sparked by the two houses of Congress failing to agree on a budget for the new financial year, seriously impacted on the US immigration dreams of thousands of would-be immigrants, it has emerged.

US Government Close Down

The shutdown, which lasted between 1st October and 16th October, has led to more than 37,000 immigration hearings being delayed by months and, in some cases, years for immigrants who had already been waiting in lengthy lines to plead for asylum or green cards.

Immigrants who had hoped to have their cases resolved in early October so they could travel abroad to visit family or even find employment instead had their lives put on hold. Many had already waited years to get a hearing date in the notoriously backlogged courts, which determine whether immigrants should be deported or allowed to stay in America.

Now, according to emails obtained by The Associated Press, some hearings have been pushed into later this year, while thousands more have been shelved until 2015 or even later.

“This is a big task, and not one that will be accomplished quickly, especially given our current staffing shortage,” Chief Immigration Judge Brian O’Leary wrote in an email dated 17th October to immigration judges and court administrators. A day earlier, O’Leary wrote in a separate email to staff that the tally of deferred hearings had surpassed 37,000 and many immigrants probably wouldn’t get their cases heard until at least 2015.

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