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Trump Administration Ending Legal Advice Program for Immigrants
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Summary: The DOJ said it would halt a legal aid program for immigrants.

A Justice Department official said on Wednesday that the Trump Administration would be halting a legal advice program for undocumented immigrants, according to CNN. The program will be put on hold while the government conducts an audit on its cost and effectiveness.

  
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The General Legal Orientation Program will be on pause, according to an official with the DOJ’s Executive Office for Immigration Review. The program was designed to provide detained immigrants of their rights and give non-detained undocumented immigrants legal advice from a help desk.

The program cost $8 million annually to run, and it was created in 2003 by President George W. Bush. Studies found that the program saved the government nearly $18 million because it reduced the amount of time in detention and the number immigration court cases.

According to CNN, the move has raised concerns by immigrant advocacy groups that worry the rights of immigrants seeking to stay in the US would be undercut. Under current US law, immigrants are allowed to have legal representation but the government is not required to give them a court-appointed attorney. Therefore, numerous detained illegal immigrants may have no counsel to help them argue their cases in court.

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“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,” State Representatives Jerry Nadler and Zoe Lofgren said.

The program was administered through nonprofits and other outside groups. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Trump administration has clashed with subcontractors in the past, alleging that they told undocumented immigrants in custody to get abortions.



“[The programs are] being paused in order to conduct an internal audit and review of their effectiveness,” the Justice Department said. “The General Legal Orientation Program has not had one of these done in six years. The other is a newer program so a general review has never been done.”

The DOJ said that there are thousands of immigration cases that need to be addressed.

“The Justice Department is ramping up efforts to cut an immigration court backlog of 650,000 cases in half by 2020. Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week imposed production quotas on immigration judges to spur them to clear cases more quickly,” The Chicago Tribune said.

What do you think of the Trump Administration’s decision? Let us know in the comments below.



 

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