More than 40,000 immigration court hearings have been cancelled due to shutdown, report estimates

US President Donald Trump appears on a television screen in the Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 8, 2019, as he speaks during a presidential address about the government shutdown and border security from the Oval Office. - Trump demanded $5.7 billion to fund a wall on the US-Mexico border in his first televised Oval Office address Tuesday, describing a "growing crisis" of illegal immigration hurting millions of Americans. The president stopped short of calling for a much-touted state of emergency, instead appealing to the need to slash the cost of the illegal drug trade, which he put at $500 billion a year. "There is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border. Every day customs and border patrol agents encounter thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country," Trump said. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

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Immigrants who have been waiting for their day in immigration court—some for years now—will be waiting even longer because of Donald Trump’s shutdown. “An analysis of government data released Monday by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a research institute at Syracuse University, estimates that more than 40,000 cases have already been canceled because of the shutdown,” Mother Jones reports. 

Because of the shutdown, immigration judges are only able to hear cases involving detained immigrants, leaving immigrants who have been waiting for a chance to adjust their legal status, for example, to now probably have to go to the back of the line of a court system that already has a backlog of 800,000 cases.

Judge Ashley Tabaddor, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, told CNN that as the shutdown continues, “we’re looking at several thousand [cancellations] a day,” while others, like Miguel Ramirez Valiente, are waiting to just get called back by someone—anyone—in the system.

Unable to argue his case in the courts, Valiente, a dad of three U.S. citizens, recently went into sanctuary in a Colorado church in an effort to avoid deportation after nearly 15 years in the U.S. “With the government shutdown, mail basically goes into a box,” said his attorney Lisa Guerra. “There are no judges to decide that motion to reopen. There is no office of chief council to speak with about the case. We are basically in legal limbo, waiting for the government to reopen.”

Call your Republican senators at 202-224-3121 and don’t stop until this is over.

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