The Executive Office for Immigration Review, the managing agency for Immigration Courts nationwide, has indicated that immigration hearings will proceed on Monday as scheduled. According to Martinez Manglardi’s managing attorney, Frank Symphorien-Saavedra, anyone scheduled for a hearing on Monday, January 28th and thereafter must appear or they could be ordered deported from the United States in their absence.
As reported by the Washington Post and various other media sources, the current shutdown has resulted in thousands of immigration court hearings being cancelled, exacerbating a tremendous backlog in immigration courts. Before the shutdown, the courts were already struggling to keep up with the pace of enforcement activity generated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with various other sub-agencies from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
More than 800,000 cases remained pending in immigration courts before the shutdown, and there are only about 400 Immigration Judge’s trying to manage this extraordinary and unprecedented case load. Then Donald Trump’s shutdown resulted in nearly 80,000 immigration cases being cancelled, and postponed for a later date. Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security continued its enforcement activity—filing hundreds of notices to appear in immigration court—even while it remains uncertain how or when the Court’s will be able to address the new cases.
Mr. Symphorien-Saavedra indicates that one of the cases cancelled had been pending since 2012. Mr. Symphorien-Saavedra explained that his “client had been waiting for her final hearing for over 3 years, and she expected to be able to move forward with her life after the scheduled hearing on January 4, 2019. As a result of the shutdown, the hearing was cancelled. Now the entire family’s life is on hold while they try to figure out if the kids should proceed in planning for college in the United States or in Mexico. Ironically, the government shutdown over Trump’s demand for a border wall is forcing many immigrant to remain in the United States while they await their fate for years in immigration court.”
Now that the shutdown is over, the Courts have indicated that they will continue with the cases as scheduled starting on Monday, January 28th. Mr. Symphorien-Saavedra encourages anyone scheduled for a hearing on Monday, January 28th and thereafter to be sure to appear in court or they may be deported in their absence.