President Trump’s standoff with Democratic leaders over the border wall continues to drag on, with no indication that an agreement to end the federal government shutdown is within reach. Many believe the shutdown could go on until mid-January, if not longer.
Irony and Contradiction
What has many people shaking their heads (more often than usual) is that the government shutdown is going to keep migrants in the country longer than originally planned because the courts scheduled to hear those cases are now closed and may be for a very long time. Ironically, Trump’s action to keep migrants out of the United States (government shutdown until the border is funded) will only keep the current undocumented immigrants here longer.
Immigrants and their attorneys went to scheduled hearings December 26 only to find out the immigration courts were closed due to the government shutdown; the cases were postponed without prior notice from the Department of Justice’s Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR), the body that oversees immigration cases. Mid-day on Wednesday, the EOIR sent out this notice:
“During the current lapse in appropriations, the following operating status is in place for EOIR:
Detained docket cases will proceed as scheduled.
Non-detained docket cases will be reset for a later date after funding resumes. Immigration courts will issue an updated notice of hearing to respondents or, if applicable, respondents’ representatives of record for each reset hearing.”
What’s odd is that the EOIR had tweeted an announcement on Friday, December 21 stating that immigration courts would be closed on Monday, December 24 due to an executive order from Trump, but no such announcement was made on Wednesday. Why? Friday’s announcement came out just hours before the shutdown. So, after the shutdown was in place, the EOIR website posted a notice stating, “Due to the lapse in appropriations, Department of Justice websites will not be regularly updated.” Maybe no updates are being made to the social media accounts for this agency and others like it affected by the federal government shutdown.
To further contradict matters, only “essential” government functions continue during the ongoing shutdown, and non-detainee cases are not being heard because they have not been deemed “essential.” By whom, you ask? President Trump. The website Law & Crime put it this way, “That’s right, the man who blasted the Obama administration for letting so many defendants in illegal border crossing cases go free, whose own administration insisted on locking up every single offender, resulting in family separations, doesn’t seem to think prosecuting all of these cases is essential.”
The people who are here illegally, according to President Trump, will be in this country even longer waiting for their rescheduled court dates. Depending on each judge’s caseload, the postponed court dates may not be rescheduled for months, or even years, in some instances. Postponing the court dates of people President Trump has deemed as “dangerous criminals” seems contradictory (at the very least) to achieving his goal of keeping Americans safe.
No End in Sight
The shutdown has impacted nine of 15 federal agencies, forcing approximately 380,000 federal employees to take unpaid leave (furlough); other workers, deemed “essential employees,” are working without pay.
Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers and congressional aides say there’s no end to the shutdown in sight, and that no agreement to reopen the government would be made before Democrats take control of the House on Thursday, January 3, 2019. It is expected that Nancy Pelosi will be elected Speaker and that she will have the House vote on bills to re-open the government. However, it is far from certain whether GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will allow any vote to proceed in the Senate.