Hans & Tamar Oppenheimer Chair in Public International Law

30 March 2010

Justice for Immigration’s Hidden Population - Protecting the Rights of Persons with Mental Disabilities in the Immigration Court and Detention System

Texas Appleseed

A quarter of all immigrants apprehended each year in the U.S. are sent to detention facilities in Texas. The problems documented in the report are not unique to Texas, however. Poor quality care in detention, arbitrary transfer to detention facilities far away from family and other community and mental health supports, and due process failures are major challenges facing immigration detainees with mental disabilities.

Texas Appleseed is already talking with Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials and with the U.S. Department of Justice about the following major recommendations in its report:

- Immigrants should continue to receive mental health services in the community or in a hospital while their immigration cases are adjudicated.

- ICE should improve procedures for screening and diagnosing mental disabilities, improve mental health care in detention, and provide timely access to medical records.

- Over 80 percent of detained immigrants have no attorney, and currently there is no process for establishing competency in immigration court. The report calls on the Justice Department to address these issues.

- ICE must ensure safe domestic release or repatriation of immigrants with mental disabilities. (In one case cited in the report, a family has not been able to find their son with mental disabilities two years after his release from detention.)

PDF - 2.5 Mb
The full report
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