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The Latest: Judge blocks restriction on immigrant legal help

Posted May 17

— The Latest on a lawsuit by a Seattle-based immigrant rights organization against the Justice Department (all times local):

10: a.m.

A judge in Seattle has temporarily blocked a Justice Department decision that immigrant legal rights organizations around the country say would curtail much of the work they do.

U.S. District Judge Richard Jones issued his ruling Wednesday immediately following oral arguments in a lawsuit brought by the nonprofit Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

The Justice Department last month told the group it cannot provide certain legal assistance to immigrants unless it undertakes formal representation of them in court. The nonprofit says it doesn't have the resources to do that, and the order would force it — and similar groups around the country — to give up preparing motions and other documents on behalf of immigrants who represent themselves.

Jones said the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project made a credible showing DOJ's action would violate its constitutional rights and limit its work — forcing many immigrants to go without legal help.

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9:21 a.m.

A federal judge in Seattle is hearing arguments over legal help for immigrants facing deportation after the U.S. Justice Department issued an order that immigration law organizations around the country say would curtail much of the work they do.

The Justice Department last month told the Seattle-based Northwest Immigrant Rights Project that it cannot provide certain legal assistance to immigrants unless it undertakes formal representation of them in court. The nonprofit says it doesn't have the resources to do that, and the order would force it to give up preparing motions and other documents on behalf of immigrants who represent themselves.

The group sued the Justice Department last week, citing violations of its rights to free speech, assembly and to petition the government.

U.S. District Judge Richard Jones is hearing arguments Wednesday morning.

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