What Happens If the Government Shuts Down?
In light of President Trump's refusal to sign a bill to keep the government running that does not include border wall funding, a partial government shutdown is currently in effect. Immigration-related agencies that are impacted by the shutdown include the DHS, ICE, CBP, EOIR and DOS
EOIROn Friday, January 11, all six immigration judges (IJs) at the Dallas Immigration Court will hear cases on the detained docket. In order to fill these new hearing openings, the court administrator has been instructed to advance cases that were previously scheduled more than 60 days out to an earlier hearing date. The Dallas IJs that previously heard non-detained cases are technically assigned to *mixed dockets.* EOIR is permitted to assign IJs from mixed dockets to cover detained cases during the government shutdown.
Immigration court cases on the detained docket will proceed during a lapse in congressional appropriations while non-detained docket cases will be reset for a later date when funding resumes. Courts with detained dockets will receive all filings but will only process those involving detained dockets. Courts with only non-detained dockets will not be open and will not accept filings. Members may want to check with their local chapters for court-specific instructions.
USCIS:USCIS is a fee-funded agency so if the government shuts down, it is generally business as usual. The exception to this is those programs that receive appropriated funds - E-Verify, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program, Conrad 30 J-1 doctors, and non-minister religious workers, which are suspended or otherwise impacted.
In the past, when the government reopened, USCIS accepted late I-129 filings provided the petition was submitted with evidence that the primary reason for failing to timely file an extension of stay or change of status request was the government shutdown.
Ice, CBPCBP: Inspection and law enforcement personnel are considered "essential." Ports of entry will be open; however, processing of applications filed at the border may be impacted.
ICE: ICE enforcement and removal operations will continue, and ICE attorneys will typically focus on the detained docket during a shutdown. The ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) offices are unaffected since SEVP is funded by fees.
Some others.DOL: Is NOT impacted by this government shutdown. On September 28, 2018, President Trump signed a minibus appropriations bill funding DOL through the end of September 30, 2019.
SSA: According to the SSA Contingency Plan for FY2019, during a shutdown the SSA would "except" 53,000 employees in order to maintain key functions including issuing of original and replacement Social Security number cards.
EB-5: USCIS provided updated guidance on the impact of the shutdown on the EB-5 program.
E-Verify: E-Verify and related services are generally suspended.
CBP: The CBP website is not being "actively managed" and was last updated on December 21, 2018.
DOJ Civil Litigation: Civil litigation is "curtailed or postponed to the extent this can be done without compromising to a significant degree the safety of human life or the protection of property."
DOL: The OFLC would cease processing all applications in the event of a government shutdown, and personnel would not be available to respond to e-mail or other inquiries. OFLC's web-based systems, iCERT and PERM, would be inaccessible, and BALCA dockets will be placed on hold.
CIS Ombudsman: The DHS Office of the CIS Ombudsman would close and would not accept any inquiries through its online case intake system.