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Trump shutdown allows thousands of immigrants to stay in US

President Trump unilaterally shut down the federal government for 35 days to demonstrate his displeasure with the refusal of Congressional Democrats to provide funding for the border wall that was the centerpiece of his election campaign. Now that the shutdown is over, impartial experts looking at court records made an ironic discovery: the President's fit of pique allowed more than 80,000 undocumented immigrants to remain in the country.

Removal hearings are frequently scheduled months or even years in advance. The current backlog of cases requiring a hearing is over 800,000. When the system becomes plugged by an event, such as the government shutdown, the canceled hearings cannot simply be rescheduled for a week or two after the shutdown ends. Many cases must be rescheduled for months, if not years, in the future. The immigrants whose cases were necessarily rescheduled have, in effect, been allowed to remain in the country without any documentation for months or years.

Experts who have reviewed these numbers point out that Trump's shutdown had exactly the opposite result of its intended effect. Instead of coercing Congress to fund a border wall, the shutdown has extended lawful stays for tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants whose hearings were postponed by the shutdown. Moreover, many of the illegals affected in this way are convicted criminals. Other experts have pointed out that the shutdown will compound delays that already exist in the system due to underfunding and lack of qualified personnel. Some detained immigrants may have their hearings postponed for another year or so.

Anyone whose situation was affected by the shutdown may wish to consult an experienced immigration attorney for advice on alternative procedures and preparation if a hearing should be ordered.

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