An estimated 415,000 people awaiting decisions on whether or not they can lawfully remain in the country may have to wait until November of 2019 to see a judge in the wake of a flood of hearing cancellations. The problem began in 2014 when the US Department of Justice gave priority hearing status to specific types of Central American immigrants. Previously scheduled hearings in California and elsewhere were cancelled with little notice and rescheduled for November 29, 2019.
Previously the law only accorded detained immigrants priority status, but the new DOJ guidelines shift focus to families facing deportation and unaccompanied minors who have crossed U.S. borders. This affects undocumented workers, those operating under temporary visas and people fleeing to America to seek political asylum from war-torn nations.
Family immigration attorneys are concerned for their clients as these hearings are imperative to obtaining the right to live and work in the United States. Cases where a client only awaits a final court appearance for approval to remain in the country may be the most difficult because they may still be subject to deportation while they wait to see a judge. While those with valid working documentation or temporary or provisional permits may remain in the country until their cases are resolved, deportation remains a constant concern.
Family immigration attorneys might respond to this situation in a number of ways. An attorney may try to establish priority status for clients based upon age, marital status or other pertinent factors to ensure a hearing as quickly as possible. The attorney might also petition the court, the DOJ or Immigration and Naturalization Services for temporary documentation to permit their clients to remain until a proper hearing can be scheduled and conducted.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Immigrants Could Wait Until 2019 To Have Cases Resolved," Seth Robbins, Feb. 2, 2015