In what has been described as the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, the Trump administration has been having deleterious effects on several important governmental functions, one of which is the legal immigration system. Citizens of Tennessee might be interested to learn that every week the government remains shut down, approximately 20,000 cases are added to the immigration court case backlogs.

To get a more concrete picture, it might be preferable to look at actual numbers. Ever since the shutdown started in December 2018, there have been about 42,726 immigration court hearings cancelled. To make matters worse, people whose cases were cancelled were people who usually had to wait two to four years just to get a hearing; getting a hearing cancelled means going back at the end of a long line and having to wait for another few years.

The number of immigration cases that were being cancelled didn’t start out at 20,000 per week; during the first week of the shutdown, the number was closer to 5,600 cases. However, the longer the shutdown lasted, the bigger its damage on the legal immigration system became. The second week of the shutdown witnessed almost double the number of cases getting cancelled, and the third week saw the number doubling almost yet again. It is believed that the rate of cancellations has stabilized now, but if the shutdown lasts till the end of this month, the total will be around 110,000 cases that have been cancelled.

Any immigrant whose case has been postponed may wish to reach out to an immigration lawyer to inform them of their options. Immigrants need to know where they are most vulnerable and what they can do about it, all of which may be discussed with legal counsel.

Source: Thinkprogress.org, “Trump’s shutdown is adding 20,000 cases per week to the record-high immigration court backlog,” Alan Pyke, January 14, 2019.