Last Oct. 31, when U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft altered prison regulations to allow the government to eavesdrop on prisoners’ conversations with their lawyers in cases linked to terrorism, lawyers protested the threat to attorney-client privilege.

The loudest howls came from immigration lawyers, the practitioners most affected. Of the 1,200 or so people detained in the investigation of the Sept. 11 attacks, more than 750 of them have been charged as illegal immigrants.

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