Policy Brief: The Severely Under-Resourced R&A Program is an Essential Tool to Meet Growing Needs for Affordable Immigration Legal Services
The Biden Administration and the Department of Justice, or DOJ, have a program at their fingertips called the Recognition and Accreditation Program, or R&A Program, that has operated since the 1950s to increase the number of qualified immigration legal representatives available to serve low-income immigrants. However, the program is currently severely underfunded and under-resourced, bringing the credentialing of new legal representatives to a virtual standstill. As the Biden administration pushes toward its goal of legalization for DACA recipients, Temporary Protected Status holders, and other immigrant populations, increasing the capacity of nonprofit legal services organizations is necessary to ensure that those populations have access to counsel, and therefore access to justice. The R&A program also contributes to both socioeconomic and racial equity, as it helps sorely needed legal expertise reach remote locations and provides opportunities for members of racial and ethnic minority groups to become accredited representatives and serve their communities in their native language and with cultural competence. Restoring an efficient and effective R&A program is a required first step that must take place before pursuing immigration reforms in the legislature and within agencies to ensure that the nonprofit legal services community is ready to meet the increasing demand for services.