If federal agencies shut down on Tuesday because Congress doesn’t pass a bill that provides money for the new fiscal year, many non-essential employees like national park rangers, will be furloughed and not allowed to work. But essential services within the Department of Homeland Security, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents will still be around to enforce immigration law because the operations are “necessary for safety of life and protection of property.”
Here are the immigration services that will be affected by the shutdown:
The border will stay open. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) “front line staff” and officers that screen passengers and luggage will remain on the job. They will likely not be paid until Congress passes their bill. Though limited in the number of staff, CBP agents will have to keep the border open.
Green card applications will be processed. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will remain open since it is mainly funded through user fees, so applications will still be processed.
But employers won’t be able to hire people with E-Verify. For more than 404,000 employers who use this service, the internet-based system that allows businesses to verify the legal status of potential employees will not be operating.
And passport processing will be delayed. The Department of State (DOS) will only process diplomatic visas and visas for “life or death” situations. During the last government shutdown, between 20,000 to 30,000 visa applications by foreigners and more than 200,000 U.S. applications for passports went unprocessed.
Immigration courts will take a long time to process hearings and cases. The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) will likely furlough 70 percent of its 1,339 employees, including those working in the immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals. Only 153 attorneys will continue to work, meaning that the processing time for immigration cases will be significantly delayed. There is already a 560-day backlog to process immigration cases.
Worst of all, immigrants will still be deported.
ICE agents will still be able to detain, arrest, and deport immigrants. On average, 1,120 undocumented immigrants are deported every day.