For 15 years, the Legal Orientation Program (LOP) has been providing free legal guidance to immigrants threatened with deportation. As of today, that program is coming to an end, with no indication that it will ever be reinstated.
Was The Program Effective?
According to an article from Texas Monthly, the Trump administration claims to merely be temporarily pausing the program to study its effectiveness. However, the Justice Department already conducted such a study. In 2012, the Justice Department determined that the LOP helped detained immigrants move through the system faster, saving the government $18 million in detention fees. Still, the Trump administration believes that study may not be accurate because it was conducted under “unorthodox circumstances,” so it wants to conduct further research before allowing the LOP to continue.
The executive director of one LOP service provider clarified the importance of the program, stating that it allowed them to educate immigrants of their rights and options. In the process, it was frequently discovered that an immigrant threatened with deportation was actually already a citizen, and was able to stay in the country. On the other hand, it also allowed them to explain to immigrants who were not citizens and had no basis upon which to remain in the country what they were facing, and many immigrants then chose to leave voluntarily.
Immigrants Always Have The Right To Legal Representation
While the options available under the Legal Orientation Program my be gone, at least for now, immigrants threatened with deportation should always remember that they have the option to retain an attorney to help them understand their rights and to protect their interests through this complex process.