Feds Find Legal Orientation Program Increases Detention Time, Chance For Immigrants To Stay

Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2018 - 6:07pm
Updated: Monday, September 10, 2018 - 11:58am

A national program with Arizona roots that teaches detained immigrants how to represent themselves in court narrowly escaped the chopping block earlier this year.

A government review has found that people in the Legal Orientation Program spend more time in detention and had a better chance at being allowed to stay in the U.S.  

The U.S. Department of Justice had planned to stop the Legal Orientation Program in April. But Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed course at the last minute and let it continue while the review went forward.

The Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project created the model for the Legal Orientation Program. The program has a proven record of making immigration courts more just and efficient, said Laura St. John, legal director.

“Because people who go through the process now have an understanding of what their rights and opportunities are, and can pursue those in realistic way,” St. John said.

A separate review by the Vera Institute of Justice, a New-York based nonprofit that runs the Legal Orientation Program, is due out next week, St. John said.

The Justice Department did not comment. The government still has to finish two more parts of its review.  

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