With the partial government shutdown now stretching for 18 days, some courts that handle immigration cases in the northeast have slowed operations.
Manchester-based immigration attorney Ron Abramson says about a quarter of his cases are directly affected by the shutdown.
Non-detained clients, specifically, are seeing their cases delayed.
"That case may have built up for two or three years,” Abramson says. “And now on the brink of getting a positive result, that person just finds out it's on hold again and has no idea until when."
Abramson says getting information from the court is difficult. In the meantime, filing deadlines remain, so he and other lawyers are forced to send documents with proof of delivery.
In addition, Abramson says he can't get crucial tax return information for his clients, with the IRS also slowing its services because of the shutdown.
“If you call the asylum office in Boston you get a recording; if you call the EOIR Immigration Court, you get a recording saying something about going to a website to see how the shut down will impact our area of work,” says Cathy Chesley, Director of Immigration Legal Services for Catholic Charities New Hampshire. “So it’s difficult to get answers on simple questions.”
Abramson says the irony of the situation is not lost on him.
"The entire stalemate is about a physical barrier for the ostensible purpose of making our country more secure,” Abramson says. “Yet it’s causing the courts and the other operations that would contribute to that to slow down and arguably make things less secure."