DHS will pay for legal assistance, “cultural orientation” for illegal immigrants

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The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday announced a new pilot program to pay cities, counties and non-governmental organizations to provide legal services, “cultural counseling,” medical screening and other aids to illegal immigrants who have been arrested and released and awaiting deportation hearings.

The new “Pilot Case Management Program” has been mandated by Congress, the department said, and will be used for migrants who are placed in the Alternatives to Detention program, which frees migrants with ankle bracelets, or requires them to make regular check-ins.

Alternatives and case management programs are two favorites of immigrant rights activists, who argue that few, if any, illegal immigrants should be detained while they await their proceedings in immigration court.

“We are delighted to partner with non-profit organizations and local governments on this pilot program to improve services for non-nationals in immigration procedures,” said Katherine Culliton-González, who will chair a new national council for the pilot program.

A previous pilot case management program launched under the Obama administration was highly touted by immigration activists, who said it had a high compliance rate for attending initial hearings and made the process easier. deportation for those who have lost their case.

The Trump administration ended the program, saying the compliance rate had dropped significantly by the time of the deportation, making the program less cost-effective than the regular detention process.

The new Biden administration program will make money available to local governments and outside organizations for mental health services, human trafficking and sex trafficking screening, legal referral programs, education programs, cultural orientation and return preparations for migrants whose deportation is ordered.

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