Cancelled Immigration Court Hearings Grow as Shutdown Continues
Since the beginning of the federal government shutdown, most Immigration Court hearings have been cancelled. As of January 11, the estimated number of cancellations reached 42,726. Each week the shutdown continues, cancelled hearings will likely grow by another 20,000. As many as 100,000 individuals awaiting their day in court may be impacted if the shutdown continues through the end of January. See Table 1.
The magnitude of the shutdown's effect - termed "devastating" by Immigration Judge Dana Leigh Marks - is based upon detailed analyses of court records by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. Individuals impacted by these cancellations may have already being waiting two, three, or even four years for their day in court. Judge Marks, former president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, in an interview January 9 on PBS estimated that it could add another three or four years to the wait for immigrants who are on her docket before their hearing can be rescheduled.
Since few cases are being resolved during the shutdown, each week the shutdown continues the practical effect is to add thousands of cases back onto the active case backlog which had already topped eight-hundred thousand (809,041) as of the end of last November.
States Where Hearing Cancellations Are Occurring
Immigration Courts in California have experienced the most hearing cancellations - an estimated 9,424 as of January 11. New York had the second highest number of individuals impacted by court cancellations -- 5,320. Texas was close behind New York with an estimated 5,141 court proceedings cancelled. See Figure 1.
Figure 1. Top Ten States with Most Cancelled Immigration Court Hearings, as of January 11, 2019
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If the shutdown continues, the number of individuals in each state who will have their Immigration Court hearing cancelled grows. If the shutdown continues through the end of January, nearly 25,000 individuals waiting for their hearing in California immigration courts will be impacted. Hearing cancellations will be around 10,000 or more each in New York, Texas and Florida. New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts will each see over 4,000 immigrants affected by cancellations. State-by-state totals for all states are shown in Table 2.
 This estimate was derived from the latest available court records, current as of November 30, analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. It is based upon case-by-case records covering court hearings that had been scheduled during the shutdown period. Excluded from the counts were hearings at detained locations where proceedings are reportedly continuing to be held.
 Judge Marks's crowded docket is not atypical. TRAC reported that courts back in May were then so backlogged that new hearings were not being scheduled until late in 2021 or even 2022. And since then - even before the shutdown began - the backlog has only grown larger.