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Sessions resumes immigrant legal advice program under pressure from Congress

Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed course on suspending a legal advice program for undocumented immigrants, sayi...

Posted: Apr 26, 2018 5:09 AM
Updated: Apr 26, 2018 5:09 AM

Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed course on suspending a legal advice program for undocumented immigrants, saying he has ordered the resumption of the program pending a review of its effectiveness.

Sessions announced the move at the opening of a hearing before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that funds the Justice Department, saying he made the decision at the request of Congress, which has consistently appropriated money for the program.

At issue is the Legal Orientation Program, created under President George W. Bush in 2003. Unlike in the criminal justice system, immigrants are allowed to have legal counsel but the government is not obligated to provide it, so many undocumented immigrants have no legal help as they argue their case to stay in the US. The program is administered through outside groups and works with nonprofit organizations to provide immigrants with presentations, workshop sessions and referrals to potential pro bono legal services.

Earlier this month the Justice Department decided to suspend the program as it conducted a review. A 2012 audit by the department found, consistent with previous studies, that the program actually reduced the length of immigration court cases and detention, saving the government nearly $18 million.

Sessions told the subcommittee on Wednesday that while he has "previously expressed some concerns about the program," he heard from bipartisan members of the committee that led him to reverse course.

"Out of deference to the committee, I have ordered that there be no pause while that review is conducted," Sessions said. "I look forward to evaluating the findings as are produced and will be in communication with this committee when they are available."

The top Democrat on the committee, New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, said she was "pleased" to hear that from Sessions but reminded him that the committee still has unanswered questions about the methodology of the review Sessions is conducting.

Advocates and those who work to represent immigrants immediately decried the move when it was announced as a threat to due process rights that could actually make the courts more backlogged, not less.

The move had followed other recent efforts by the Justice Department to, in their words, expedite proceedings in the immigration courts to cut down on the extensive backlog of cases, which result in some immigrants living in the US for years while they await their fate, many of which have similarly been criticized by opponents as a risk to due process rights.

A internal study commissioned by the Justice Department that was made public this week recommended expanding the Legal Orientation Program as a way to make the courts more efficient.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 296154

Reported Deaths: 6764
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19700230
Hinds18851392
Harrison16736281
Rankin12757265
Jackson12623228
Lee9694161
Madison9480203
Jones7990147
Forrest7234138
Lauderdale6837226
Lowndes6032140
Lamar589680
Lafayette5740113
Washington5220130
Bolivar4616124
Oktibbeha441593
Panola431995
Pearl River4178131
Warren4134115
Pontotoc410571
Marshall403592
Monroe3990127
Union396174
Neshoba3817169
Lincoln3552104
Hancock348975
Leflore3380118
Sunflower318986
Tate303174
Pike301296
Scott294570
Alcorn292263
Yazoo290565
Itawamba290175
Coahoma281169
Tippah279265
Copiah278758
Simpson276280
Prentiss270258
Wayne254341
Leake252871
Marion252778
Covington249580
Grenada247878
Adams234678
George232145
Newton230852
Winston221877
Jasper213645
Tishomingo212665
Attala206669
Chickasaw201453
Holmes182370
Clay179251
Stone172429
Tallahatchie171239
Clarke169371
Calhoun158028
Smith153033
Yalobusha145036
Greene127833
Walthall124340
Noxubee122831
Montgomery122639
Perry122135
Lawrence120321
Carroll118625
Amite111734
Webster110832
Jefferson Davis102231
Tunica99323
Claiborne98829
Benton93824
Humphreys92927
Kemper90323
Quitman77414
Franklin76119
Choctaw69817
Jefferson62727
Wilkinson62426
Sharkey49117
Issaquena1676
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 497154

Reported Deaths: 10029
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson714001387
Mobile36252736
Madison32573462
Tuscaloosa24289414
Montgomery22708519
Shelby22112215
Baldwin19856285
Lee15021155
Calhoun13755288
Morgan13742252
Etowah13379320
Marshall11439210
Houston10110262
Elmore9451185
Limestone9413136
St. Clair9003225
Cullman8979182
Lauderdale8610212
DeKalb8486175
Talladega7582165
Walker6571259
Jackson6542103
Autauga631391
Blount6229127
Colbert5998120
Coffee5259103
Dale4657107
Russell406433
Franklin399778
Covington3989106
Chilton3891100
Escambia378772
Tallapoosa3613143
Clarke343953
Chambers3423111
Dallas3419142
Pike293372
Marion288895
Lawrence284683
Winston258668
Bibb245960
Geneva240270
Marengo238357
Pickens225055
Barbour212951
Hale211969
Fayette201357
Butler201166
Henry182941
Cherokee177739
Monroe166639
Randolph164640
Washington156635
Macon147243
Crenshaw146254
Clay145554
Cleburne139741
Lamar133733
Lowndes132551
Wilcox122525
Bullock117236
Conecuh107024
Perry105927
Sumter99432
Coosa89624
Greene88532
Choctaw55123
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