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Immigration program put on hold by DOJ

Those held in Florida or anywhere else awaiting pending immigration court proceedings don't have the right to an attorney. However, there was a program started in 2003 that held group sessions with detained immigrants to help them learn more about the immigration court system. The program, which costs about $8 million a year, was put on hold by the Department of Justice (DOJ) pending a further review.

According to the Vera Institute of Justice, the program helps over 50,000 people per year who are in detention. One of the benefits of the program is enabling immigrants to make decisions in an informed as well as timely manner. The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University reports that there are over 600,000 immigration cases waiting to be heard. For many detainees, the program is the only source of legal information available to them while their cases unfold.

Those who are seeking asylum or another legal status may have to wait several months or years before their cases are heard. These individuals may also have to find an attorney who will take on their case for free if they cannot afford one. In the event that a person is able to find an attorney to take his or her case, there are many steps that he or she could take to obtain a favorable outcome.

A lawyer may be able to argue that a person faces the threat of violence or death if forced to return home. The fact that an immigrant has friends or family in the country could also work in that person's favor. Having strong ties to a community may decrease the odds that an individual will be a danger or nuisance to others if allowed to remain in the country.

Source: CBS News, "Immigrant advocates furious over Justice Department Move," April 13, 2018

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