A few updates this morning after the complete shutdown of the federal government over a disagreement about healthcare policy.
1. The E-verify program that employers use to verify that the workers they’re hiring have permission to work is not working this morning.
2. The Board of Immigration Appeals didn’t answer the phone this morning when I called. Hopefully none of our clients need an emergency order on a stay of removal or something similar, because it sounds like nothing is happening [Update: the Emergency stay line is open for emergency calls only, but the clerk’s office line is shut off]
3. The EOIR’s status hotline (1-800-898-7180) is not working. Many practitioners use this hotline to figure out when the BIA has denied a detained appeal. Because the Board only sends out the decision notices by regular mail, we usually don’t get them for 3 to 7 days. By that time, if the appeal was denied, our clients may have already been deported, before they had the chance to appeal to the Circuit Court or prepare a motion to reopen or reconsider. The loss of this phone system is going to be a huge problem in the coming few weeks.
4. There are a number of “cancellation of removal” cases that had been pending, waiting for a decision. This is because Congress only allows 4000 of these cases to be approved each year, and with the increase in immigration court proceedings over the last several years, the Immigration Court has been granting more than 4000 each year. Once the cap is reached, the rest have to wait for the beginning of the next fiscal year, which is October 1. Many many many people (most likely in the 3,000 range) had hearings scheduled this morning so that they could be granted cancellation of removal. Those hearings won’t happen, and will be rescheduled until probably several months from now.
5. The Department of Labor has stopped accepting and processing applications and related materials, including audit responses, Labor Condition Applications, Applications for Prevailing Wage Determinations, Applications for Temporary Employment Certification, and Applications for Permanent Employment Certification. The web portals on the DOL’s website, including the iCERT Visa Portal System, aren’t working.
6. The Department of State is still working, and I have already spoken with a consular officer this morning in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Hopefully there is no cut in security or protection for these brave Americans who choose to represent our government overseas in sometimes quite hostile places.
7. Of course, ICE detention and enforcement operations are up and running. ICE trial attorneys are working on the detained cases that are still happening in the Immigration Courts.