AndreyPopov/iStock(NEW YORK) — Dozens of immigration courts remain shuttered across the country this week and tens of thousands of hearings were canceled because of the ongoing government shutdown, a situation that is likely to add hundreds of cases to an already crushing backlog, according to analysts.It’s an ironic twist in President Donald Trump’s desire to secure the U.S.-Mexico border by building a $5 billion wall and send people through established ports of entry. Democrats say they would support additional border security but have balked at wall construction, resulting in a 25-day government shutdown without any end in sight.The number of asylum and other immigration-related cases facing U.S. judges has skyrocketed in the past two decades, creating a backlog of more than 800,000 active cases before the shutdown began, according to data compiled by Syracuse University, based on Justice Department records.Syracuse University estimated on Monday that nearly 43,000 immigration court hearings on a variety of matters, including evidence examination and basic scheduling, have been canceled. As many as 100,000 people could be impacted if the shutdown continues through the end of the month.Aaron Reichlin Melnick, a policy analyst with the American Immigration Council, said that he estimates for every day the shutdown continues, another 500 immigration court cases that would have been completed are compounding the backlog.“The stress on the immigration court system will only increase as backlogs continue to skyrocket due to the shutdown,” Reichlin-Melnick told ABC News.The estimates are based on the average number of court matters typically completed when the government is not shutdown.After the shutdown began last month, court proceedings stopped for anyone who was not detained by U.S. authorities. Cases for detained immigrants were allowed to continue under the Justice Department’s shutdown plan. Many people, particularly those traveling with children, would not necessarily be detained for long periods of time unless there was evidence of other criminal activity.The shutdown also creates a paperwork backlog, as courts for non-detained cases are not open to receive key documents from lawyers. That includes case documents to help asylum applicants prove their right to stay in the U.S.In addition to the impact on cases, the judges who were scheduled to hear cases are feeling the strain of growing uncertainty and not getting a paycheck.Judge A. Ashley Tabaddor, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges is worried about the financial hardship for hundreds of her colleagues working without pay.“The ticking time bomb is the impact [on judges],” Tabaddor said. “It is going to have a big impact personally on the judges’ financial standing and ability to be able to support their families.”For many immigration judges, the decision to enter public service is already a sacrifice, Tabaddor said. They typically carry academic credentials that could give them the opportunity for much higher paychecks in the private sector.“At some point maybe some of the judges will say, ‘this isn’t what I signed up for,’” she said.Financial problems are a common cause for the government to deny security clearances. Judges could face difficulty in passing their ongoing background screenings which aim to ensure they’re not at risk of defaulting on debt.“I hope we do not get there,” Tabaddor said. “I hope the shutdown is resolved soon and quickly.”Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
“We really do need more investable opportunities,” he said. “There is actually a lot more money available than there are, presently, investable opportunities.”MacDonald said institutions could be providing the “heavyweight” capital for the interconnection of energy markets.“Greater interconnection between the European grids would actually improve the efficiency of renewables because we’d be able to transport the electricity much further and much more efficiently,” he said.“That actually would improve the efficiency and reduce the unit cost of providing renewable. We can do that, simply by adjusting our existing portfolios, but the opportunities have to be there, and the regulatory framework has to be there.”MacDonald has previously criticised that many infrastructure projects were packaged in a way that was “sub-optimal” for pension funds, and called for greater risk-sharing.During the launch, Frank Pegan, chief executive of the AUD5.3bn (€3.7bn) Catholic Super and chair of the Australian and New Zealand counterpart of the IIGCC, praised the work undertaken in conjunction with the letter to launch a low-carbon investment register, which lists details for several hundred successful climate-friendly investments.“It shows we are currently investing across the whole economy in addressing carbon,” Pegan said, noting that it should hopefully act as a talking point for policymakers.Speaking on behalf of another supporter of the campaign, Anne Simpson, director of governance at the $300bn California Public Employees’ Retirement System, criticised the market failure caused by the lack of global carbon pricing and called for an end to tax subsidies to fossil fuel companies that were “distorting” investment decisions.Her views were echoed by Pegan, who described the Australian government’s recent abolition of its carbon emissions trading scheme as “backward” and said the discussion to curb the country’s renewable energy target showed there were risks across all global economies “unless we continue to push for a strong policy framework”.Anne Simpson will be discussing shareholder activism at the IPE Conference & Awards in Vienna on 20 November,WebsitesWe are not responsible for the content of external sitesLink to low carbon investment register Pension funds should be providing the “heavyweight capital” to improve the cross-border connectivity of energy networks but are being held back by a lack of investment opportunities, according to a trustee at the BT Pension Scheme (BTPS).Donald MacDonald, also chairman of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), said improving the connectivity of national energy networks would reduce energy costs and allow for greater efficiencies in providing renewable energy.During the launch of a letter signed by more than 340 institutions, worth $24trn (€18.5trn), which called for governments to address the regulatory gaps holding back low-carbon investing, MacDonald said he accepted governments no longer had “infinite volumes of money” to finance the transition.As a result, private capital needs to be attracted to such projects, he said.