Jeff Sessions at the Department of Justice terminated the Legal Orientation Program. This program was run by the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the same agency responsible for immigration court. LOP helps orient immigrants in detention so they understand the proceedings against them and options. The LOP was not implemented to give legal advice, but to help orient detainees to help increase efficiency in immigration court.
The LOP program was started in 2003 under the Bush Administration. According to the DOJ, it saves immigration courts appx. $18 million because the LOP helps shorten the time foreigners remain in detention by an average of 12 days.
Immigrants do not have a right to an attorney, so the vast majority of detainees are left to their own devices in navigating the immigration courts. Very often, immigration judges want foreigners to have information so the courts can be more efficient and effective. Judges need to identify the valid claims and deport the rest. More knowledge makes things go quicker.
EOIR is also ending the immigration court “help desk,” created to provide basic information about immigration court process to non-detained immigrants facing deportation in five cities. The agency chose not to renew the contracts with LOP and help desk providers while it reportedly assesses the programs’ cost effectiveness and efficiencies.
Whether you are for or against immigration to the U.S., we should all favor following the rules. Knowing the rules helps everyone, including tax payers. Otherwise, immigration judges are left with a mess to try and sort out.