Emails obtained by The Associated Press reveal that the federal government shutdown last year delayed more than 37,000 immigration hearings by months or years.

Many immigrants had already waited years to get a hearing date in the notoriously backlogged courts. The hearings determine whether immigrants should be deported or allowed to stay in the country.

Now, thousands of hearings shelved during the 16-day federal government shutdown won't be rescheduled until 2015. Some immigrants may have to wait even longer for new court dates.

The impact on immigrants has been uneven. Those with strong cases for staying in the U.S. are left in limbo for even longer. Those who face likely deportation have won more time in the United States.

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