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Women’s Refugee Commission Condemns Halt of Legal Orientation Program by Department of Justice

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) condemned Tuesday’s announcement that the U.S. Department of Justice would halt the Legal Orientation Program (LOP). LOP provides information to detained immigrants facing deportation about their rights and the immigration court process. With this information, detained immigrants can make more knowledgeable decisions about their cases and potentially receive assistance in obtaining pro bono counsel.

Reports suggest that last year alone, 53,000 immigrants accessed the program in over 12 states. Moreover, the program has been shown to save government resources through increased efficiency.

WRC has seen firsthand, in visits to detention centers around the country, that LOP is critical in helping hundreds of detained asylum seekers understand their rights and the complexities of the asylum system.

Michelle Brané, director of WRC’s Migrant Rights and Justice program, made the following statement in opposition to the halting of LOP:

“The Department of Justice's (DOJ) intention to terminate the Legal Orientation Program (LOP) is an attack on due process. The program saves money, increases efficiency and provides critical lifesaving information about basic rights.

“This latest attack on immigrants from the administration undermines our basic legal principles as Americans. It also violates congressional intent and should concern all Americans as it is another step in the administration’s efforts to destroy any semblance of fairness. Thousands of men, women, and children’s lives – and our national identity are put at risk when our legal system is undermined.”