- The ongoing government shutdown has also halted one of the government’s main programs used to vet immigrant workers.
- E-Verify is meant to check whether the candidates employers want to hire are in the country legally.
- But a note on the program’s website says the service is “currently unavailable.”
- Immigration judges have also reported massive disruption to the asylum cases they were set to hear, in some cases causing them to be canceled and rescheduled years in the future.
- Border Patrol agents are also working without pay.
The ongoing government shutdown over funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall has already yielded some apparently unintended consequences – particularly on one of the government’s main programs to vet immigrant workers.
Due to the shutdown, which is stretching into its 14th day at midnight on Friday, employers across the United States are no longer able to use a government program that checks whether the candidates they want to hire are living in the country legally.
“E-Verify and E-Verify services are currently unavailable due to a lapse in government appropriations,” a message on the system’s website reads.
“There’s an irony there,” Julie Pace, a Phoenix immigration and employment lawyer for Cavanagh Law Firm, told NPR. “We have an electronic wall for E-Verify that should be being used, that the government has not funded.”
Though the effectiveness of E-verify is debatable – immigration experts have previously described the program to INSIDER as riddled with loopholes that fail to flag unauthorised workers – the program is mandatory for some or all employers in at least 20 states.
Until the program is back up and running, those employers will be unable to hire workers.
Immigration judges can’t hear immigration cases and Border Patrol agents are working without pay
Beyond just the E-Verify program, immigration judges have expressed frustration that they were furloughed and unable to hear immigration cases that were scheduled years in advance.
The US asylum system currently has a backlog of hundreds of thousands of cases, and though the National Association of Immigration Judges said many judges have been told to return to work without pay, the shutdown has already forced an “immense” number of cases to be canceled and rescheduled for 2021 or beyond.
“The irony is not lost on us that the immigration court is shut down over immigration,” the union’s president, Ashley Tabaddor,told The Washington Post.
Some 54,000 Border Patrol agents are also working without pay as they have been deemed “essential personnel.” They will likely receive back pay when a spending deal eventually gets approved.
Trump appeared in the White House’s Rose Garden on Friday to defend his demands for border-wall funding. He said he didn’t intend to back down, and confirmed to reporters that he told top Democrats the shutdown could last months or even years.
“Without borders, we don’t have a country,” Trump said. “I hope it doesn’t go on even beyond a few more days. It really could open very quickly.”
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