Department of Justice Decision to Lapse Legal Orientation Program for Immigrants Will Harm Our Country
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, issued the following statement after the Department of Justice has reportedly planned to end the Executive Office of Immigration Review’s (EOIR) Legal Orientation Program (LOP):
“The Department of Justice’s decision to lapse the Executive Office of Immigration Review’s Legal Orientation Program is a shockingly bad decision that will harm our country.
“LOP attorneys and paralegals provide a valuable service to immigrants by educating them on their rights. In 2016, LOP attorneys and paralegals assisted more than 60,000 detained individuals in 38 detention facilities across the country – helping them understand the court process, assessing their potential claims for relief, and connecting immigrants with pro bono counsel. These services are critically important because immigrants lack the right to government appointed counsel in immigration proceedings, and immigrants in detention are even less likely to have legal representation. A recent University of Pennsylvania study found that only 14 percent of immigrant detainees were represented by legal counsel. This educational program saves money for taxpayers by helping expedite proceedings and avoid expensive detention costs.
“The Department of Justice claims the Legal Orientation Program must be paused to assess cost effectiveness. In fact, Department of Justice studies have already found that LOP reduces both court processing and detention stays – a value to immigrants and American taxpayers. This decision to pause LOP is not about cost effectiveness, efficiency or good governance, but rather about expediting and executing President Trump’s mass deportation agenda.”
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