An Austin nonprofit will struggle to offer its legal assistance program to immigrant detainees after the Department of Justice announced Tuesday that it would halt millions in grant funding.
Rebecca Lightsey, executive director of American Gateways, the nonprofit that provides those services to three detention centers in Texas, calls the decision “almost unconscionable.”
The programs educate immigrants about their basic legal rights and about the immigration court process. Unlike with criminal cases, immigrant court cases are civil matters and therefore not entitled to legal defense at the government’s expense. Without those programs, Austin immigration attorney Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch said, “They know nothing about the laws. They know zero. Most have been through a pretty harrowing journey and they have no idea what faces them. Without this service, they are not given any information.”
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