Sending Office: Honorable Mike Quigley
Letter to AG Sessions Regarding the DOJ’s Termination of Essential Immigration Legal Advice Programs
Deadline: COB April 18, 2018
Please join me in sending a letter to Attorney General Sessions expressing our concern with the Department’s decision to terminate two programs that provide legal assistance to detained immigrants facing deportation.
Under the guise of a typical audit, the termination of the Legal Orientation Program (LOP) and the Immigration Court Helpdesk program is an affront to due process and undermines judicial efficiency. Previous audits of the LOP program did not require an interruption
of operations, and the last audit found that the program saved the government nearly $18 million over one year. Additionally, these actions directly contradict the express direction of Congress.
I urge you to join us in sending this letter to ensure DOJ keeps its commitment to fairness, due process, and constitutional requirements.
Please fill out the online form here to sign the letter. If you have any questions, please contact Brooke Stuedell at
firstname.lastname@example.org in Rep. Quigley’s office or Matt Alpert at
email@example.com in Rep. Serrano’s office.
Member of Congress
José E. Serrano
Member of Congress
April 18, 2018
We write to express our strong opposition to the recent announcement that the Department of Justice is terminating the Legal Orientation Program (LOP) and the Immigration Help Desk program (ICH). The termination of these programs would undermine fairness
and the right to due process in our immigration court proceedings, all while slowing case processing, and increasing costs for the Executive Office for Immigration Review. Additionally, these actions directly contradict the express direction of Congress.
The Legal Orientation Program (LOP) and Immigration Help Desk Program (ICH) provide vital resources to individuals facing proceedings in immigration courts. The LOP program provides individuals in detention with in-person briefings on immigration court
procedures as well as basic legal information and resources. Studies have shown that these programs save our immigration courts time and money, and in fact, the Justice Department’s own website states that:
“Experience has shown that the LOP has had positive effects on the immigration court process: detained individuals make wiser, more informed, decisions and are more likely to obtain representation; non-profit organizations reach a wider audience of people
with minimal resources; and, cases are more likely to be completed faster, resulting in fewer court hearings and less time spent in detention.” Given this body of evidence, we were shocked to hear about the
Department’s plans—which were brought to our attention not by the Department, but by concerned advocates.
The stated reasoning for the programs’ “suspension” is so the Executive Office for Immigration Review (“EOIR”) can “conduct efficiency reviews which have not taken place in six years.” While we support efforts
to engage in regular oversight, that does not justify the termination of these programs during that process. Previous reviews, including the 2012 review, were effectively conducted without interrupting the operation of the LOP program.
Lastly, the Department’s announcement that it is terminating these programs runs counter to the very clear direction of Congress. The reports accompanying both the House and Senate Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bills for fiscal year 2018 included
clear expectations that the LOP program be continued in fiscal year 2018 at no less than the fiscal year 2017 level. In fact, the House report stated, “The recommendation sustains the current legal orientation program and related assistance, such as the information
desk pilot,” while the Senate specified that, “the Committee’s recommendation maintains the fiscal year 2017 level of no less than $10,400,000 for LOP.” The
language in each of these reports was approved by the fiscal year 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act (Public Law 115-141).
Recent efforts at the Department with regard to U.S. immigration courts raise serious concerns about the Department’s commitment to fairness, due process, and constitutional requirements. In this case, these efforts also directly
contradict the express direction of Congress in House Report 115-231, Senate Report 115-139, and Public Law 115-141 and its accompanying Explanatory Statement. Our expectation is that these programs will be resumed consistent with congressional intent. We
look forward to your response.
https://storage.googleapis.com/vera-web-assets/downloads/Publications/legal-orientation-program-evaluation-and-performance-and-outcome-measurement-report-phase-ii/legacy_downloads/LOP_Evaluation_May2008_final.pdf, p. 3.
 It should be noted that the last review was conducted at the request of the Appropriations Committee. https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/eoir/legacy/2013/03/14/LOP_Cost_Savings_Analysis_4-04-12.pdf
 H. Rept. 115-231
 S. Rept. 115-139
 “Sec. 4. Explanatory Statement. The explanatory statement regarding this Act, printed in the House section of the Congressional Record on or about March 22, 2018, and submitted by the Chairman of the Committee
on Appropriations of the House, shall have the same effect with respect to the allocation of funds and implementation of divisions A through L of this Act as if it were a joint explanatory statement of a committee of conference.” Division B of the explanatory
statement begins as follows: “Report language included in House Report 115-231 (“the House report”) or Senate Report 115-139 (“the Senate report”) that is not changed by this explanatory statement or this Act is approved. The explanatory statement, while
repeating some language for emphasis, is not intended to negate the language referred to above unless expressly provided herein. In cases where both the House report and the Senate report address a particular issue not specifically addressed in the explanatory
statement, the House report and the Senate report should be read as consistent and are to be interpreted accordingly.
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0