Almost 1,200 immigration hearings in Chicago canceled because of government shutdown; backlogs expected to grow

Almost 1,200 immigration court hearings have been canceled in Chicago since the federal government shutdown started, and that number is expected to climb as the weeks go by.

An analysis from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse found that as of Jan. 11, already 1,186 immigration hearings in Chicago had been canceled because of the government shutdown. If the shutdown were to continue into February, the number of hearings canceled in the city would grow to 2,978, and if it continues into March the number would climb to 4,975, according to the TRAC analysis.

The partial federal government shutdown started Dec. 22, and it stems from a dispute between Congress and President Donald Trump. The president has demanded $5.7 billion to fund a border wall with Mexico. But as the days have turned into weeks, the shutdown has become the longest in U.S. history.

California has seen many more immigration hearing cancellations than Chicago. As of Jan. 11, an estimated 9,424 immigration hearings had been canceled in California during the shutdown, according to the Syracuse analysis.

The analysis was done by reviewing scheduled immigration court hearings and does not include hearings at detention centers, according to TRAC. In December, the U.S. Department of Justice, which oversees the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which functions as the country’s immigration court system, issued a memo stating that immigration cases for people detained would continue while the cases of those not in custody would be canceled and resume once funding was restored.

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