RMIAN Celebrates Important Victory: Legal Orientation Program Will Continue

April 25, 2018
Contact: Mekela Goehring,
mgoehring@rmian.org, (720) 370-9102

Two weeks ago the Department of Justice announced that it would end funding for the Legal Orientation Program (LOP), effective April 30, 2018. Today, RMIAN is proud to announce an important victory: the Legal Orientation Program will continue. In comments made today before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the program will continue throughout the evaluation process. 

“Continuing a program — the LOP — that serves both justice and efficiency should have been a no-brainer from the start. That this administration has reversed — at least for the time being — its initial decision to end the program is welcome news for all who care about due process, the rule of law, and fiscal responsibility. But this close call is a reminder that even the most bipartisan and sensible efforts to do justice are at risk in this administration. We at RMIAN are resolutely committed to overcoming this and future challenges, to make sure that we keep working for justice for immigrants — and justice for all,” said RMIAN Board Member Hiroshi Motomura.

“The near disappearance of the Legal Orientation Program (LOP) is a call to action for all of us who care about the rule of law and justice for immigrants in the United States. RMIAN is thrilled that the Department of Justice has reversed its decision and is now doing the right thing by allowing the Legal Orientation Program to continue. However, we know this battle is not over; RMIAN will continue to fight for the rights of our fellow community members ensnared in civil immigration detention in Colorado, and ensure this vital lifeline continues well into the future,” said RMIAN’s Executive Director Mekela Goehring. 

Affected clients, nonprofit partners, community members, and elected representatives mobilized in the past two weeks throughout Colorado to save this essential program. Mayor Hancock and nearly all the Denver City Council members sent a letter urging the continuation of the Legal Orientation Program to Attorney General Sessions. Representative Jared Polis and Senator Bennet wrote and signed on to statements demanding the Legal Orientation Program continue. RMIAN’s clients spoke out against the program’s termination. This tireless advocacy helped change the course of a decision that would have had disastrous impacts on individuals ensnared in civil immigration detention in Colorado and beyond. RMIAN extends its heartfelt gratitude to the amazing network of supporters who rallied to fight for justice for immigrants.

“RMIAN is relieved that we can continue upholding the most basic levels of due process for the individuals held in the civil detention facility in Aurora, Colorado. Information is power, and stripping noncitizens of access to legal providers would effectively deny them of the rights to which they would otherwise not know they are entitled. Although we cannot breathe easily because there is an ongoing review of the program, we are pleased to continue serving those who are forced to navigate this complex legal system with limited resources,” said RMIAN’s Detention Program Managing Attorney Laura Lunn.

For additional information about RMIAN and ways you can help, please see www.rmian.org.