On December 22, 2018, President Trump refused to sign a bill to fund the government because it did not include border wall funding. As a result, a partial government shutdown was in effect and the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) that is commonly referred to as “immigration court” was closed as a result. On January 25, 2019, President Trump agreed to temporarily reopen the federal government for three weeks while negotiations continue.
Over 42,000 immigration hearings were canceled from December 24th through January 25th, according to a report from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). About 9,000 of those cancellations were in California. These cases will be added to the record-high backlog of over 800,000 immigration cases that existed before the shutdown started.
There was some confusion when the nation’s immigration courts reopened on January 28, 2019. Contracted interpreters were not scheduled in time for the sudden re-opening and hearings had to be rescheduled. Overflowing boxes of documents awaited judges and clerks as they returned to work.
According to EOIR spokeswoman Kathryn Mattingly, “non-detained immigration cases that were continued due to the partial government shutdown will be rescheduled to the earliest available hearing date on the immigration judge’s calendar.” According to Susan Long, co-director of TRAC, “Finding available time slots to reschedule hearings could result in years of further delay.” Most of the nation’s immigration courts are scheduled for hearing for the next three years.
If you had an immigration hearing scheduled during the government shutdown and your hearing was canceled, you and your attorney, if you are represented, should receive a rescheduled hearing notice in the mail. However, we encourage you to stay informed and check your case status by calling the EOIR electronic phone system at 1‑800-898-7180 and entering your Alien number (A number). The electronic phone system information is available in English and Spanish and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.