POLITICS

Government Shutdown Hurt 37,000 Immigrant Cases

MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 28: Honduran immigration detainees prepare to board  their U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), deportation flight bound for San Pedro Sula, Honduras on February 28, 2013 in Mesa, Arizona. ICE operates 4-5 flights per week from Mesa to Central America, deporting hundreds of undocumented immigrants detained in western states of the U.S. With the possibility of federal budget sequestration, ICE released 303 immigration detainees in the last week from detention centers throughout Arizona. More than 2,000 immigration detainees remain in ICE custody in the state. Most detainees typically remain in custody for several weeks before they are deported to their home country, while others remain for longer periods while their immigration cases work through the courts.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 28: Honduran immigration detainees prepare to board their U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), deportation flight bound for San Pedro Sula, Honduras on February 28, 2013 in Mesa, Arizona. ICE operates 4-5 flights per week from Mesa to Central America, deporting hundreds of undocumented immigrants detained in western states of the U.S. With the possibility of federal budget sequestration, ICE released 303 immigration detainees in the last week from detention centers throughout Arizona. More than 2,000 immigration detainees remain in ICE custody in the state. Most detainees typically remain in custody for several weeks before they are deported to their home country, while others remain for longer periods while their immigration cases work through the courts. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)  (2013 Getty Images)

Emails obtained by The Associated Press reveal that the federal government shutdown last year delayed more than 37,000 immigration hearings by months or years.

Many immigrants had already waited years to get a hearing date in the notoriously backlogged courts. The hearings determine whether immigrants should be deported or allowed to stay in the country.

Now, thousands of hearings shelved during the 16-day federal government shutdown won't be rescheduled until 2015. Some immigrants may have to wait even longer for new court dates.

The impact on immigrants has been uneven. Those with strong cases for staying in the U.S. are left in limbo for even longer. Those who face likely deportation have won more time in the United States.

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