CAPITAL AREA IMMIGRANTS’ RIGHTS (CAIR) COALITION DENOUNCES USDOJ’S INACCURATE REPORT ABOUT THE EFFICACY AND IMPACT OF LEGAL ORIENTATION PROGRAM

Sep 10, 2018

WASHINGTON (Sept. 11, 2018) — The Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition denounces a new report released by the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) about the efficacy of the Legal Orientation Program (LOP) that incorrectly contradicts a 2012 report that found that LOP significantly reduced the length of a detainee’s immigration court proceedings.  

 

This week, the USDOJ’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) released the first phase of an analysis of the LOP. The LOP, which is administered by the Vera Institute of Justice through CAIR Coalition and other subcontractors, provides legal information and legal access to detained immigrants, ensuring they understand the process by the time they appear in immigration court. The report questions the effectiveness of the program. However, the Vera Institute of Justice, in a statement available on their website, states that there are “insurmountable methodical flaws in the EOIR analysis.” In addition, the report was released without the benefit of data from the Department of Homeland Security which could have provided more accurate findings.

 

While the EOIR report does not make recommendations on the future of the LOP, an inaccurate report critical of the program could wrongly lead decision makers to reduce or eliminate its already meager funding.

 

“This report is a veiled attempt to strip CAIR Coalition and organizations like ours of funding needed to sustain detention center visits to provide legal assistance to this vulnerable population,” said Kelly White, Program Director of CAIR Coalition’s Detained Adult Program. “We must protect due process and ensure LOP continues. Most of the people we serve do not speak English and find themselves in a jail-like facility with no understanding of how to navigate our complex legal system.”

 

Created in 2003, LOP serves more than 50,000 people per year nationally in 38 detention centers. In the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area, CAIR Coalition, with LOP funding, serves more than 4,000 people every year in six immigration detention centers.

 

The EOIR report reflects a continued pattern of denying immigrants access to justice and will only serve to perpetuate problems like the family separation crisis. In April of this year, strong bipartisan support for the program – which past studies have found to be incredibly effective – led Attorney General Jeff Sessions to walk back a proposal to pause funding for this program.

 

Notably, this is not the first time that EOIR has released incorrect and misleading statistics. In 2016, the USDOJ had to write a letter to the Supreme Court explaining that it made “several significant errors” in reporting data from EOIR that greatly understated the time immigrants spent in detention with no possibility of release.

 

For more information about CAIR Coalition’s work, visit www.caircoalition.org.

 

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The Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition strives to ensure equal justice for all immigrant men, women, and children at risk of detention and deportation in the DC metropolitan area and beyond through direct legal representation, know your rights presentations, impact and advocacy work, and the training of attorneys defending immigrants in the immigration and criminal justice arenas. More information can be found at http://www.caircoalition.org.