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When Salvadoran immigrant Joselin Marroquin-Torres became flustered in front of a federal immigration judge in New York and forgot to give her asylum application, a woman she had just met stood up to provide it.

"Thank you," the judge said. "What is your relation to Joselin?"

"I am a friend," responded retired chemist Marisa Lohse, who has accompanied dozens of immigrants to such hearings.

Lohse is among hundreds of volunteers, including preachers, law students and retirees, who've stepped up to accompany people in the U.S. illegally to court hearings and meetings with immigration officials, guiding them through an often intimidating process.

Some of them say the accompaniment is more important than ever since Republican President Donald Trump expanded the definition of deportable offenses to include all immigrants living in the country illegally, giving rise to immigrants being apprehended during routine check-ins with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"We want to increase the accompaniment because the crisis is more severe. The pain, the fear, is bigger," said Guillermo Torres, from Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice in Los Angeles.

The group escorts mostly women and children to immigration court hearings, where judges decide who can stay in the U.S. and who must leave. Volunteers also accompany immigrants who are required to periodically check in with federal agents because they have pending cases or have been ordered deported.

ICE said it didn't have national statistics on how often immigrants have been arrested during those check-ins. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups said they believe such arrests are increasing. Trump has said the arrests and deportations are necessary to keep the country safe.



A federal appeals court ruled for the first time Tuesday that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects LGBT employees from workplace discrimination, setting up a likely battle before the Supreme Court as gay rights advocates push to broaden the scope of the 53-year-old law.

The 8-to-3 decision by the full 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago comes just three weeks after a three-judge panel in Atlanta ruled the opposite, saying employers aren't prohibited from discriminating against employees based on sexual orientation.

The 7th Circuit is considered relatively conservative and five of the eight judges in the majority were appointed by Republican presidents, making the finding all the more notable.

The case stems from a lawsuit by Indiana teacher Kimberly Hively alleging that the Ivy Tech Community College in South Bend didn't hire her full time because she is a lesbian.

In an opinion concurring with the majority, Judge Richard Posner wrote that changing norms call for a change in interpretation of the Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin or sex.

"I don't see why firing a lesbian because she is in the subset of women who are lesbian should be thought any less a form of sex discrimination than firing a woman because she's a woman," wrote the judge, who was appointed by Republican Ronald Reagan.

The decision comes as President Donald Trump's administration has begun setting its own policies on LGBT rights. Late in January, the White House declared Trump would enforce an Obama administration order barring companies that do federal work from workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual identity. But in February, it revoked guidance on transgender students' use of public school bathrooms, deferring to states.

Hively said after Tuesday's ruling that she agreed to bring the case because she felt she was being "bullied." She told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that the time has come "to stop punishing people for being gay, being lesbian, being transgender."

"This decision is game changer for lesbian and gay employees facing discrimination in the workplace and sends a clear message to employers: it is against the law to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation," said Greg Nevins, of Lambda Legal, which brought the case on behalf of Hively.

Ivy Tech said in a statement that its policies specifically bar discrimination based on sexual orientation and that it denies discriminating against Hively, a factual question separate from the 7th Circuit's finding regarding the law.


The federal health care law doesn't infringe on the religious freedom of faith-based nonprofit organizations that object to covering birth control in employee health plans, a federal appeals court in Denver ruled Tuesday.

The case involves a group of Colorado nuns and four Christian colleges in Oklahoma.

Religious groups are already exempt from covering contraceptives. But the plaintiffs argued that the exemption doesn't go far enough because they must sign away the coverage to another party, making them feel complicit in providing the contraceptives.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. The judges wrote that the law with the exemption does not burden the exercise of religion.

"Although we recognize and respect the sincerity of plaintiffs' beliefs and arguments, we conclude the accommodation scheme ... does not substantially burden their religious exercise," the three-judge panel wrote.

The same court ruled in 2013 that for-profit companies can join the exempted religious organizations and not provide the contraceptives. The U.S. Supreme Court later agreed with the 10th Circuit in the case brought by the Hobby Lobby arts-and-crafts chain.


The Nevada Supreme Court is hosting an interactive Law Day Live forum linking courtrooms in Las Vegas, Carson City, and Winnemucca around an American Bar Association theme honoring the legacy of the nation's second president, John Adams.

Court spokesman Bill Gang said a Thursday videoconference hook-up will be streamed live as an educational tool for middle and high school students across the state.

Panels at each location will include judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and law enforcers — moderated by Supreme Court Justice Nancy Saitta.

Adams was the first U.S. lawyer-president, and was a staunch advocate of the rule of law — including the principle that accused persons are entitled to a legal defense.

Adams defended British soldiers in court on charges after the Boston Massacre of 1770.

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