Disabled and Disserved: The Right to Counsel for Mentally Disabled Aliens in Removal Proceedings
52 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2011 Last revised: 5 Feb 2012
Date Written: November 1, 2011
In May 2011, in Matter of M-A-M, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) for the first time examined the issue of mentally disabled aliens and their vulnerability in immigration proceedings. To assist Immigration Judges (IJs), the BIA created a framework to analyze cases where issues of mental competency are raised. While this decision appears to recognize the unjust plight of mentally disabled respondents in removal proceedings, it is wholly insufficient in providing meaningful due process protection to aliens with mental disabilities. Given the complexities of immigration law and the profound impact that legal representation can have on an alien, those with mental disabilities cannot be expected to properly defend themselves against removal without legal representation.
Keywords: immigration, right to counsel, mental disability
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