More Immigrants in Limbo as Government Shutdown Due to COVID-19 Leads to Widespread Immigration Court Hearing Cancellations
(04 Jun 2020) The partial shutdown of the Immigration Court in the wake of COVID-19 has already impacted hundreds of thousands of immigrants awaiting their day in court. TRAC's estimate-given currently available data-is that 368,000 immigrants with cases now before the Immigration Court have already been adversely affected.

However, this does not represent the full scope of the long-term impact of COVID-19 on the Courts. TRAC estimates that once scheduling delays for the rest of the individuals in the Court's backlog are taken into account, 850,000 immigrants-or more than three-quarters of a million-may well be affected by the shutdown even if the Court were to reopen today.

TRAC divides those directly impacted thus far into the following groups depending upon where immigrants were in the hearing process.

In the first group are individuals at the end of the hearing process. For them, the cancellation of their hearing meant the Immigration Judge was unable to decide their case. TRAC estimates that over 85,000 immigrants as of the end of May were in this group. These immigrants will now have to wait many months-if not years-before they have their day in court when their cases finally get resolved.

Each month, a flood of new cases are added to the Court's workload. These comprise the second group. TRAC estimates 88,000 cases are in this group. They were impacted not because their hearings were canceled, but because they have to wait even longer before their first hearing is scheduled.

Most immigrants in removal proceedings are not at the beginning of the process nor at the end, but somewhere in the middle of the Court's backlog when the shutdown began. These are in the third group. TRAC estimates that at least 280,000 have already had their hearings canceled. As discussed above, 85,000 out of the 280,000 hearing cancellations were for final hearings and were in first group, leaving the remainder in this third group. These individuals will face months or years of delay before the immigrant's next hearing can be scheduled-with more hearings needed even after the next one to fully resolve each immigrant's case.

Finally, an estimated additional half million immigrants have yet to be directly affected because their next hearing was scheduled after the end of May. For this particular group, however, they will need to schedule further hearings after the one now scheduled. These subsequent hearings will also be delayed because of the increasingly clogged schedules of immigration judges.

To read the full report, with further details on the impact of the Court's closures, go to:

TRAC's free web query tools which track Immigration Court proceedings have also been updated through April 2020. For an index to the full list of TRAC's immigration tools and their latest update go to:

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