An “Essential” Delay?

As many Americans are aware, there has been a “government shutdown” since Tuesday, October 1.  The shutdown is a result of the House and Senate being unable to agree on a bill to fund the government.  Now luckily, a shutdown doesn’t mean what it sounds like it means.  “Essential” functions of the government continue to run as they do; however, “Non-Essential” functions are temporarily shut down.  One such “Non-Essential” function may not feel so “Non-Essential” to the people it affects.  16 immigration courts across the country have been closed during the shutdown, and another 25 have been partially closed.  With the only immigration courts remaining fully operational being those located inside detention centers.  To Estrada Gonzalez, whose green-card hearing was scheduled for Tuesday, October 1st, the immigration court’s operation in Arizona felt pretty essential.  Gonzalez had become eligible to receive legal status after marrying the daughter of a naturalized U.S. citizen.  Gonzalez’s green card had been approved and all that remained was the hearing.  Additionally, his driver’s license and work permit had expired because they are linked to the hearing, and can’t renew until there is a new hearing.  His next hearing could be rescheduled for months or years later.

Gonzalez is not the only one affected, the already overloaded immigration court system will see a huge accumulation of hearing reschedulings, and the importance of those hearings being when they were supposed to be was critical to those whom are parties to them.  The shutdown will positively affect some illegal immigrants as well.  For those who faced deportation hearings with no chance of winning, they will be allowed to remain in the U.S. until their hearings are rescheduled; a time period which could end up being years.  So the question is, no matter which side you are on when it comes to the immigration debate, are federal immigration courts an “Essential” function? Or are they of secondary importance.  Is it reasonable to make people who have been waiting for years for a hearing to wait another series of years? Or vise versa for those who are sure to be deported?


USA Today

Washington Post



  1. I think this function of government should definitely be considered “essential”. There are over 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States. Determining whether or not those people will become citizens is a major issue that our country faces. But if it is a major issue, why isn’t that function of government considered “essential”?
    There have been many calls for changes to our countries immigration policies due to the fact that there are so many illegal immigrants in the U.S. It was a huge talking point during November’s Presidential elections, and will always be a major issue in elections in the future. The government is dealing with people’s lives and whether or not they are able stay in this country. The immigrants have been fighting for years to obtain United States citizenship, and this delay cripples their hard work and dreams. As stated in the article, the shutdown of these immigration courts could delay the immigrants’ hearings for years. This is such a counterproductive act when immigration is one of the biggest obstacles that our country has to deal with.
    Further, those that would most likely be deported are now able to stay in the country longer. Regardless of those people’s situations, it is not fair to other immigrants who have recently been deported before the shut down. Just think that if their hearings where scheduled for a week or even a couple of days later, they would be able to stay in this country indefinitely longer and continue to live and pursue their own American dream.

  2. I definitely believe that immigration courts provide an essential function and that they should not be shut down completely or even partially during this government shutdown. The government shut down itself is non-essential in my opinion because both the Republican and Democratic parties should have came together and agreed on a resolution and never shut the government down to begin with. I sympathize with Estrada Gonzalez, and many similarly situated individuals, whose green-card hearings were postponed. Estrada driver’s license and work permit expired as a result of this postponement and the fact that his next hearing could be rescheduled for months or years later is ridiculous. Similarly, the fact that illegal immigrants will be given a pass for possibly the same amount of time as Estrada is unfortunate. Since immigration courts are already overloaded, closing many of them during this un-called for government shut down was not a good decision. Immigration courts should have been deemed essential.

  3. Estrada Gonzalez’s situation is very disconcerting, but it is another example of how daily government procedure affects individuals in dramatically different ways. Life for many people has been changed due to the government shutdown. Unfortunately for some, these changes come at a higher price. Do I think that immigration courts should be deemed essential? No. Being a citizen of America is not a right, it’s a privilege. I think paying death benefits to the families of killed soldiers should be deemed an “essential function” of the government and yet these have gone unpaid over the past two weeks. A charitable organization has had to step up and pay these death benefits until Congress can get its act together. Isn’t this disgusting? Our government enlist individuals to fight in wars thousands of miles away, and then when they pay the price for their service, their families aren’t even paid the funds they were promised for their loved one’s sacrifice. Death benefits are a right, not a privilege. Again, while I sympathize for Gonzalez, we have to remember that this shutdown is going to negatively affect someone. This isn’t a Disney attraction, this is real life. Hopefully this shutdown will highlight to the American public just how disconnected our lawmakers are with reality and influence a purge of these Congressional leaders in the next midterm election.

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