The Trump administration is asking federal courts to pause several high-profile immigration-related lawsuits due to the shutdown over border wall funding.
The Justice Department on Wednesday also cited the lapse in federal funding in a key lawsuit regarding payments to Trump businesses.
The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals granted the request to suspend the briefing schedule related to a lawsuit brought by Maryland and Washington, DC, attorneys general against President Donald Trump over proceeds from the Trump International Hotel.
The federal appeals court had scheduled oral arguments for March and the opening brief was due on January 22.
“Absent an appropriation, Department of Justice attorneys and employees are prohibited from working, even on a voluntary basis, except in very limited circumstances, including ‘emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property,’” the administration said in multiple court filings.
In the DC-based case regarding limits on asylum protections for domestic and gang violence victims, Justice Department attorneys asked for more time to respond to a federal judge’s order to “bring back to the United States” anyone who had been deported in expedited removal proceedings per the court’s ruling.
Last week, Judge Emmet Sullivan blocked the Trump administration’s policy that makes it difficult for victims fleeing domestic and gang violence to qualify for asylum in the US and ruled that some people deported under the policy have to be returned.
The lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the case, Jennifer Chang Newell of the American Civil Liberties Union, noted to CNN that the Justice Department had asked to delay the deadlines for only one aspect of the ruling – next steps on bringing back the deportees.
The ACLU took no position on the department’s request.
“Overall, this is a really unfortunate result of the President’s shutdown, and we are hopeful that the new Congress will be able to reach a resolution that enables all of these things to move forward,” said Newell.
Newell, who is also a managing attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said the requests for delay are “in line with previous experience” based on past shutdowns.
Similarly, Justice Department attorneys asked for permission to pause all deadlines and hearings in a separate Washington federal court case challenging the administration’s asylum restrictions, O.A. et al v. Trump.
In another federal district court case related to the issue of family separation and reunification, the Justice Department asked a judge to pause all deadlines until appropriations are restored.
The government said it will notify the courts of when Congress has appropriated the funds for the Justice Department.
It is not immediately clear how many cases are affected by the shutdown. The Justice Department declined to comment.