Shutdown Leaves Asylum-Seekers in Limbo

By Shani Saxon Jan 11, 2019

Hundreds of thousands of people working in what are considered nonessential roles have been furloughed during the government shutdown. That group includes those who work in immigration courts overseen by the Department of Justice, Time reports. 

The shutdown has further delayed the already severely backlogged immigration courts, essentially exacerbating the very "problem" the Trump administration has railed against. "It is just dripping with irony," Sarah Pierce told Time. She works as the policy analyst at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute. "This administration has put a lot of emphasis on speeding up court cases," Pierce continues, "And the shutdown obviously is just going to cause massive delays."

In fact, as Time reports, people seeking asylum in the United States could find themselves waiting years to have their cases heard. While hearings involving detained immigrants haven’t been pushed from the docket, thousands of asylum-seekers have had their court dates postponed for what could be months or even years, per immigration experts.

Delays can be especially harrowing for those seeking asylum from persecution because, as Time reports, "they can’t bring spouses or children to join them in the United States unless their asylum requests are approved."