Alfredo and Claudia Valdez were an hour and a half into their drive from Bakersfield to a Los Angeles federal courtroom, brimming with expectation that a judge there would finally declare them legal United States residents.
It was early January, nearly two weeks into the partial federal shutdown. Alfredo’s brother had flown in from Denver and his parents had driven from Palmdale for the occasion. A friend, a coworker and a former manager had taken the day off work to speak as witnesses on his and Claudia’s behalf.
The couple was aware of the shutdown, but because they live so far away, they couldn’t risk the court reopening and missing their morning hearing. After a phone call to his lawyer confirmed that the court was still shuttered, a dejected Alfredo turned the car around….