Immigration courts slowed to a halt during the shutdown.
Many were already backlogged and then closed for the shutdown. This has led to
major delays especially for deportations. Many court case hearings had to be
rescheduled, but might not be able to get back on the docket for a year or more
in busy courts.
Detained docket cases proceeded as planned under the
government shutdown whereas non-detained docket cases will be rescheduled.
USCIS is largely funded by filing fees. However, some delays
were experienced with applications since USCIS had to rely on other closed
agencies and offices for information.
One of the most complicated aspects of a government shutdown
has to do with inter-agency cooperation. When agencies work together to process
or handle information and one is open while the other is closed, this can cause
problems. Examples include the fact that many government websites go down like
E-Verify, whereas other immigration functions might stay open.
Many ICE offices and functions stayed open during the
government shutdown, including most interviews that had previously been
The State department still allowed issuing of visas and
passports, however, the agency was also able to halt this process if those
services were provided in other federal buildings that were shutdown.
The Department of Labor was funded through fiscal year 2019
already, meaning that it was not directly affected by the shutdown except in
cases that involved interaction with other closed agencies.
Customs and border patrol are considered essential and
therefore remain open in a government shutdown.
Many filed petitions were received during this time. USCIS
offices were open during the shutdown. Petitions for benefits and applications
were still processed.
Most scheduled interviews went forward as usual. The USCIS
issued an official statement that their offices and services would remain open
and active during that time.
Fingerprint appointments are managed by biometric processing
centers run through USCIS. Cases could be delayed by a person who doesn’t show
up for a fingerprint appointment.
When the government is shut down, it’s usually due to lack
of agreement on certain funding issues. Congress has to periodically pass bills
to support federal government spending. These bills can last for a short period
of time or the entire year or can fund only portions of the government or all
of it. Any government agency that doesn’t have approved funding will shut down
until the issues are resolved as federal workers are asked to work without pay
or to be furloughed.
Funding for around 25 percent of the federal government
expired on Dec. 21, 2018, meaning that nine federal agencies didn’t have
Usually only a part of the government shuts down when a
funding bill is halted in Congress. This is because of the way the legislature
funds portions of the government or for a short period of time.
Many IRS employees were asked to come to work with no pay.
The presidential administration has shared that IRS payments are still due and
must be sent in even though their communication lines were down and the offices
The State Department kept most operations running even
though consular delays could have occurred.
Most environmental and food inspections were put on hold
during the most recent government shutdown due to lack of funding. This had
many people concerned about safety and the possibility of foodborne illnesses
National parks were open to the public during the shutdown.
Many were trashed or misused during the period, however. Those that remained
open had some closures due to being defaced. In some places, volunteers stepped
Most government museums remained closed. For example, the
National Zoo and the Smithsonian Museums were closed during the most recent
Some federal employees were asked to come into work whereas
others just stayed home. During the time of the shutdown, they did not receive
a paycheck. Many of them struggled to maintain their lives financially during
this period and picked up extra work where they could to make ends meet.
Even though they will be paid after funding is approved
again, many were struggling to pay for things during the shutdown since they
did not know when the government would reopen.
Many programs do continue running regardless of a government
shutdown. These include Medicare, Social Security, and the military since these
are classified as mandatory spending.
Anyone who has been approved for food stamps will continue
to receive them. Most food stamp programs are run at the state level, meaning
that a federal shutdown does not affect them. Without funding, however, these
programs would run out of support after a couple of months.
Mail services are still operational during a government
shutdown unless there is a notice otherwise. If you mailed in immigration
documents, they might be received but not opened during this time.
The military continues their at-home and overseas work when
the government is shut down. Even though the Coast Guard did not receive their
paychecks during this time, plenty of them were deployed and still active.
Border patrol is a chief safety issue and, as such,
important border patrol services continue even when the government is shut
Many workers in this most recent shutdown called in sick
even though basic TCA work had to continue. Some of these workers were seeking
a way to fill in their lost wages with other employment.
President Trump continued to say during the shutdown that he
was proud to shut it down for border security. He continued to state that he
would not support bills that did not include funding for his proposed border
wall. He has received increasing pressure from even his own party to come to
some form of compromise.
The Democrats wanted equal airtime to be able to discuss
their perspective. Many of them do not support the funding for the wall at all,
but others have tried to come to a compromise. Although a temporary agreement
was reached with regard to the current funding, it is likely that more problems
will occur in the future due to lack of agreement.
If you have needs for support with an immigration issue, you
need the dedicated help provided by an experienced immigration attorney. An
immigration lawyer can help you plan out your next steps. Attorney Eric Price
has years of experience in helping people with complicated immigration cases.
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