Detainees with mental disabilities have right to assistance, says federal court; deportees may return

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04/23/2013, Litigation, Immigration

A class action lawsuit in federal district court, Franco-Gonzalez v. Holder, 2013 WL 3674492 (C.D. Cal. 2013), argued, among other things, that the U.S. has an obligation to provide appointed counsel for mentally disabled detainees in immigration proceedings under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the Fifth Amendment, and the Rehabilitation Act. In December 2010, a district court judge ruled that the Rehabilitation Act required appointment of "qualified representatives" (although not necessarily attorneys) for two of the plaintiffs in order to fight their deportations, and in April 2013 the court extended this relief to the entire class via a permanent injunction. In light of its statutory decision, the court declined to reach the due process question.  Later in 2013, the Obama Administration announced it would voluntarily implement the decision nationwide.  The case received extensive media attention, including from the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.


As part of the settlement of the case, some of those wrongly deported may get to return.


Read more in our comprehensive bibliography section about the Franco case.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes



NCCRC provided some research assistance to counsel for the plaintiffs.