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Letter, May 25, 2021
Statement from Immigration Legal Services Providers to the Biden Administration: Abandon Harmful Trump Policies and Include Immigrants in DOJ Access to Justice Initiative - 21 Legal Services Contractors Call for Restoration of Legal Access Programming in the Immigration Courts
"... During the Trump administration, legal access programs in the immigration courts were consistently under attack and, in fact, the LOP program was almost terminated. Four months into the Biden administration, our organizations are concerned that this generally antagonistic approach toward legal access programming and access to legal representation in the immigration courts persists. ... Our concerns are especially urgent with regard to the cluster of legal access programs under the umbrella of the Legal Orientation Program, because of ongoing contract negotiations with a May 31st deadline. In these negotiations the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) has doggedly insisted on contract provisions championed by the Trump administration that would undermine our programs’ efficacy and make it even more difficult to match pro bono legal representation with people who need it. ... We encourage leadership of the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, and the White House to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to reorient the administration’s approach to embrace and support legal access programming and access to counsel in the immigration system, and to begin the hard work toward ensuring that all those facing deportation have a lawyer at their side. A first, small step in that hard work is to ensure that harmful and restrictive Trump-era policies have no place in current government contract negotiations of the LOP program."