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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.

Confirmed Cases: 68293

Reported Deaths: 1944
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5700119
DeSoto371031
Harrison260136
Madison245569
Jackson231444
Rankin230735
Jones193159
Forrest182656
Washington170142
Lee152142
Lauderdale141592
Neshoba128892
Lamar123115
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Oktibbeha113339
Warren112535
Lowndes109239
Panola106816
Sunflower105625
Scott101120
Lafayette98719
Copiah96228
Leflore94966
Pike94037
Holmes91049
Grenada85123
Pontotoc8429
Yazoo84113
Lincoln83442
Monroe82155
Simpson80631
Leake79526
Coahoma78113
Wayne78021
Tate74330
Marshall7129
Marion68420
Union66216
Adams63225
Winston62916
Covington62214
George5956
Pearl River55940
Newton54511
Tallahatchie54111
Attala52725
Walthall50221
Chickasaw47619
Noxubee46112
Tishomingo4377
Alcorn4355
Calhoun4259
Prentiss42310
Claiborne40914
Smith40613
Hancock40214
Clay40114
Jasper3949
Itawamba38710
Tippah37414
Tunica3587
Clarke33626
Montgomery3295
Lawrence3238
Yalobusha31610
Humphreys29712
Quitman2691
Carroll26111
Greene25612
Perry2428
Amite2376
Webster23712
Kemper23314
Jefferson Davis2336
Wilkinson21513
Stone2115
Sharkey2045
Jefferson1957
Benton1451
Choctaw1354
Franklin1312
Issaquena272
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 99926

Reported Deaths: 1781
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson13366246
Mobile10581212
Montgomery6825151
Madison546934
Tuscaloosa426979
Unassigned392566
Baldwin367029
Shelby333437
Marshall319438
Lee270847
Morgan241819
Etowah218034
DeKalb183414
Calhoun181918
Elmore176039
Walker154465
Houston142813
Russell13892
St. Clair136320
Limestone135913
Dallas133624
Franklin129722
Cullman123012
Colbert121517
Lauderdale119020
Autauga116222
Escambia108817
Talladega105414
Jackson10264
Tallapoosa87579
Chambers84738
Dale84329
Clarke82610
Chilton8189
Blount8165
Butler77036
Coffee7656
Covington74021
Pike7137
Marion58226
Barbour5796
Lowndes57124
Marengo56616
Hale48526
Bullock48111
Winston45711
Perry4454
Bibb4445
Washington44412
Wilcox43410
Monroe4236
Pickens4089
Randolph40211
Conecuh39310
Sumter36618
Lawrence3542
Macon33914
Crenshaw3326
Choctaw28912
Cherokee2768
Clay2675
Geneva2652
Henry2643
Greene25211
Lamar2302
Fayette2235
Cleburne1291
Coosa1053
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