DOJ wants immigration lawsuits on hold during shutdown

By Danielle Haynes and Allen Cone
A union representing NASA engineers and immigration judges says it doesn't support President Donald Trump's part in the shutdown. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI
A union representing NASA engineers and immigration judges says it doesn't support President Donald Trump's part in the shutdown. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 26 (UPI) -- As the federal government shutdown entered its fifth day Wednesday over border wall funding, the Department of Justice wants lawsuits tied to immigration put on hold.

At midnight Friday, nine government departments -- about 25 percent of the government -- were without funding: the Department of Justice as well as Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, State, Transportation and Treasury. NASA and the Food and Drug Administration also were affected.


Together, 400,000 federal employees weren't able to go to work Wednesday. The first payday to be affected by the shutdown will be Jan. 11.

After the weekend and two days off for Christmas, Wednesday was the first day of the shutdown when the federal government should have been open.

"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, according to CNN.


In a District of Columbia-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 deported in expedited removal proceedings.

DOJ attorneys also asked for a pause on all deadlines and hearings in a separate Washington federal court case challenging asylum restrictions.

And Justice attorneys asked a judge to pause all deadlines until appropriations are restored in a case related to family separation and reunification.

In a non-immigration case, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington granted the request to suspend a schedule on briefings in a case filed by the Maryland and Washington attorneys general against President Donald Trump over proceeds from Trump International Hotel.

Over the Christmas holiday, Trump dug in on his promise to secure part of the funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.

"I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security. At some point the Democrats not wanting to make a deal will cost our Country more money than the Border Wall we are all talking about. Crazy!" he tweeted Monday.


The House and Senate were expected to convene Thursday for the first time since leaving Washington, D.C., for the holiday break. If an agreement isn't reached before the end of December, Republicans will lose much of their leverage in the negotiations because Democrats gain control of the House in January.

Some government workers are calling on Trump to back down.

A union representing engineers in the government, including rocket scientists at NASA and immigration judges, said it has not heard from a single member supporting Trump's refusal to sign a spending bill that doesn't include $5 billion for a border wall.

"Most view this as an act of ineptitude," a statement from the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers said.

"As the nation's top administrator, he should be deeply concerned about the morale of his employees, the productivity of government agencies and the ability of the government to attract and retain the best and the brightest," the union said of the president. "Instead, he is literally tweeting the words 'poor me' while holding dedicated professionals hostage, creating unnecessary stress and financial hardships for their families, undermining their work product and treating them as a chip on a giant poker table."


Last week, the House passed an amending spending bill that includes the $5 billion for the wall, but the Senate was unable to agree to matching legislation. Unable to meet the Friday midnight deadline to pass a spending bill, the government went into its third shutdown of 2018.

In the Senate, the spending bill will require 60 votes to pass procedural votes, and with Republicans having a 51-49 majority, Democrats also have some leverage there.

Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation against meddling by Russia into the 2016 election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin is continuing despite the shutdown.

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