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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 6:09 AM
Updated: Apr 26, 2018 6:09 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.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 708779

Reported Deaths: 13226
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion966191721
Lake51761946
Allen39224672
Hamilton34549405
St. Joseph34157541
Elkhart27356432
Vanderburgh22081394
Tippecanoe21853212
Porter17935299
Johnson17544374
Hendricks16822310
Clark12697190
Madison12353337
Vigo12219244
Monroe11469166
LaPorte11162204
Delaware10366184
Howard9664211
Kosciusko9134114
Hancock7990139
Bartholomew7893155
Warrick7691155
Floyd7563176
Wayne6906198
Grant6844171
Boone6556100
Morgan6405138
Dubois6085117
Marshall5786108
Dearborn570376
Cass5685102
Henry5579101
Noble542683
Jackson493569
Shelby479495
Lawrence4342118
Gibson429089
Harrison428570
Clinton419753
Montgomery418086
DeKalb411184
Whitley380239
Huntington379880
Miami372865
Knox366689
Steuben365757
Putnam353160
Jasper350946
Wabash347878
Adams338052
Ripley334668
Jefferson313180
White308454
Daviess289499
Wells286481
Decatur279092
Fayette277262
Greene270785
Posey268833
Scott261153
LaGrange253670
Clay253544
Randolph235680
Washington231031
Spencer228031
Jennings225047
Fountain208845
Sullivan207942
Starke204752
Owen192356
Fulton192039
Jay186429
Carroll185920
Perry180736
Orange177853
Rush170724
Vermillion166043
Franklin165635
Tipton161043
Parke144616
Blackford133831
Pike130334
Pulaski113845
Newton104234
Brown100140
Crawford97614
Benton97113
Martin82915
Warren79715
Switzerland7698
Union69910
Ohio55811
Unassigned0408

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1054807

Reported Deaths: 18991
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1225191356
Cuyahoga1074592069
Hamilton783261168
Montgomery50176996
Summit45557909
Lucas40298765
Butler37768570
Stark31513895
Lorain24246473
Warren23910293
Mahoning20946583
Lake20067362
Clermont19459229
Delaware18085130
Licking16149207
Fairfield15757197
Trumbull15627460
Medina14922259
Greene14706236
Clark13660293
Wood12806185
Portage12431196
Allen11352229
Richland11067198
Miami10548214
Muskingum8717127
Wayne8594209
Columbiana8569226
Pickaway8439121
Marion8390135
Tuscarawas8387240
Erie7600154
Hancock6730123
Ross6707146
Geauga6553146
Ashtabula6530165
Scioto6295101
Belmont5634158
Union558447
Lawrence5470102
Jefferson5343147
Huron5314114
Darke5273121
Sandusky5189120
Seneca5139120
Washington5087107
Athens503856
Auglaize476284
Mercer471984
Shelby456590
Knox4397108
Madison423959
Putnam421799
Ashland413488
Fulton410567
Defiance404296
Crawford3883101
Brown386955
Logan374476
Preble371098
Clinton362160
Ottawa357978
Highland347459
Williams328674
Champaign321557
Jackson308551
Guernsey307549
Perry290549
Fayette278048
Morrow275939
Hardin264764
Henry264366
Coshocton259857
Holmes253499
Van Wert239262
Pike233831
Gallia233446
Adams229152
Wyandot227553
Hocking209759
Carroll189447
Paulding168838
Meigs141738
Noble132937
Monroe128941
Morgan106823
Harrison105636
Vinton81614
Unassigned02
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Significantly cold air settles in across northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio Tuesday night.
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