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AG Backs Off Plan To Halt Legal Program For Detained Immigrants

The U.S. Attorney General backpedaled Wednesday afternoon on a plan to stop a legal program for detained immigrants without a lawyer at the end of April.

Officials had planned to pause the federally funded Legal Orientation Program for an audit. Started nationally in 2003, the program grew out of a model created by the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project.

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The decision to pause the program for an audit drew the ire of some lawmakers. Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies.  

“I recognize, however, that this committee has spoken on this matter,” Sessions said. “And out of deference to the committee, I’ve ordered that there be no pause while the review is being conducted."

With days left before the Legal Orientation Program was scheduled to stop, it is unclear exactly what the announcement will mean for the Florence Project, which faced a $500,000 cut in funding and potential changes of services.

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.