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US judge in Seattle to hear arguments over legal help for immigrants

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SEATTLE — 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.