17:08, April 25 204 0 abajournal.com

2018-04-25 17:08:10
ABA president applauds Justice Department decision to keep immigrant education program during review

The Legal Orientation Program provides basic legal information to 53,000 immigrants a year in federal detention centers in 16 states, Bass said in the statement on Wednesday. The DOJ had previously said it would suspend the program April 30 while the review was conducted. “We are pleased that today’s action reverses that decision,” Bass said.

The Justice Department contracts with 19 nonprofits to provide the educational sessions about the law and the removal process. The ABA operates two of the programs, one in California and the other in Texas.

“Nearly 90 percent of all noncitizen detainees go through deportation proceedings without legal counsel,” Bass said in the statement. “For them, these brief orientations are the only knowledge they get before being thrust into adversarial court hearings.”

The program was found to be “highly effective,” in past studies, Bass said. She cited a 2012 analysis by the Executive Office for Immigration Review that found detainees who received legal orientations completed their court proceedings 12 days faster and spent six fewer days in detention than detainees who did not participate. The cost savings to taxpayers was $17.8 million a year.

Bass had supported the program in testimony April 18 before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration.

During the subcommittee hearing, the director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, James McHenry, said the 2012 review was conducted “under some unorthodox circumstances.” He did not offer details.

Bass said in her statement that she is confident that the new review of the 15-year-old program will conclude it “is a cost-effective and essential piece of our nation’s immigration system and our desire to provide due process for all.”