Tens of thousands of U.S. immigration officers and agents are showing up for work each day to guard the Mexico border, where President Trump insists on putting a wall. But the government is shut down, so no one is getting paid.
The paralysis in bank accounts extends to overburdened U.S. immigration courts. New filings are piling up on dockets already backlogged by nearly 1 million cases, but many of the judges and clerks who process them have been sent home.
And when U.S. companies and employers want to check the immigration status of potential hires, they are greeted by a red banner across the top of the government’s E-Verify website. Those services are “currently unavailable due to a lapse in government appropriations,” it says.
Twelve days into the standoff over Trump’s $5 billion border wall demand, major components of the U.S. immigration system are offline, out of order or under worsening strain.
The spreading impact shows the risks of border-wall brinkmanship at a time when federal agencies are struggling to cope with soaring numbers of migrant families and asylum seekers crossing the border and swamping U.S. courts.
And while the administration threatens to crack down on companies who hire unauthorized workers, the funding freeze has crippled the main compliance tool for employers trying to make sure they’re following the law.
Trump met at the White House on Wednesday with congressional leaders but appeared no closer to a deal, extending the dysfunction for at least another day.