President Donald Trump’s shutdown over his proposed border wall has ironically shuttered the immigration courts that enforce deportations, allowing hundreds of undocumented immigrants to avoid their removal orders, The Washington Post reports.
The shutdown has resulted in many of the government’s 400 immigration judges receiving furlough orders, banning them from working during the shutdown. Judge who handled the cases of migrants detained by Homeland Security are still at work during the shutdown.
The immigration courts have a backlog of 1.1 million cases, meaning thousands of hearings have already been postponed during the shutdown. According to the Washington Post, the postponements have allowed hundreds of undocumented immigrants to dodge deportation orders every day the shutdown lasts.
“They are among many hundreds of others whose cases will be postponed for years — or, in effect, indefinitely — for every day the closure lasts,” wrote the Post’s editorial board.
The postponements have also left some people in limbo:
“Take the example of undocumented immigrants with clean records who have been in the United States for more than a decade,” The Post noted. “An immigration judge may exempt such immigrants from the risk of deportation if they can show it would result in exceptional hardship for a spouse, parent or minor child who is a citizen or legal permanent resident. But that chance of relief is lost if, owing to a case’s postponement, the immigrant’s child turns 21, or the parent or spouse dies.”
WaPo editorial board mocks Trump for shooting himself in the foot:
“What distinguishes the Trump shutdown is that it contravenes the president’s own long-standing insistence on a more rational and efficient immigration system, as he himself defines it,” the editorial board wrote. “A president who attacks “catch and release ” now embraces a policy that ensures indefinite release. A president hungry for ever more deportations now ensures that thousands of would-be deportees get reprieves. And a president who conjures migrant no-shows in courts manages to close the courts entirely.”