As the partial U.S. government shutdown cripples vital services, including food security and public health programs, the deportation of people who are detained and suspected of being undocumented continues untouched.
"Immigration and Customs Enforcement told us October first that enforcement resources would continue to be fully deployed," Ruthie Epstein, policy analyst for the American Civil Liberties Union, told Common Dreams. "For people in detention, the government plans to continue deporting on-pace."
According to deportation records, this is a high pace to maintain. The Obama administration has deported record numbers of suspected undocumented people throughout his tenure, at an estimated 1,100 people per day.
There is one category of people who will see deportation proceedings halted: people not currently under detention who have scheduled hearings in immigration courts, whether for asylum applications or deportation proceedings. "The government is pressing pause" on court proceedings for non-detained people, Epstein told Common Dreams.
However, a delayed hearing while living under the threat of deportation is no blessing. "For many families, the uncertainty of this future can be tremendously difficult," Epstein continued. "They can't plan ahead for education, employment, or buy a house. It really leaves people in legal limbo."
For refugees seeking asylum, this simply means more time languishing in uncertainty.
Immigrant justice advocates say it is not clear, at this point, how the government plans to re-schedule the canceled hearings, or what the short- and long-term impacts will be as the partial government shutdown continues.