Hundreds of deported mentally ill immigrants could return to US, judge rules

27 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Hundreds of deported mentally ill immigrants could return to U.S., judge rules.

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Hundreds of immigrants with mental disabilities who were deported from the U.S. after representing themselves in court may be allowed to return to the country under a settlement approved by a judge Friday. Immigrants with “serious mental disabilities” deported from California, Arizona, and Washington between Nov. 21, 2011 and Jan. 27, 2015, can now request to have their cases reopened, according to the Associated Press.

Many of them are from Latin America or Asia, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which helped file the class action lawsuit, told Reuters. “It was a huge victory, truly a landmark ruling, and we’re very happy that our class members were no longer going to be forced to stand alone in court,” said Carmen Iguina. The settlement comes after an April 2013 injunction that found immigrants with serious mental disabilities have a right to an attorney if they’re found mentally incompetent to represent themselves. Jose Antonio Franco-Gonzalez, for instance – whose case was central to the lawsuit – was a Mexican citizen with “the cognitive ability of a two-year-old,” wrote Southern Illinois University law professor Cindy Buys in The Globe law journal.

Despite “a 2005 psychiatric diagnosis of moderate mental retardation … and an inability to understand the immigration proceedings, Jose was held in immigration detention for another five years before being released,” wrote Professor Buys. “The US government expected Mr. Litigation has also been underway to give other “particularly vulnerable groups,” such as minors and asylum seekers, the right to legal representation, writes Buys.

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