Immigrant Detainees Deserve Lawyers
Below is a link to an editorial that was published in the Los Angeles Times today, calling for legal representation for all immigrant detainees. The editorial argues that providing attorneys for detainees not only could potentially save significant amounts of money, but, more importantly, that it would “prevent miscarriages of justice.”
The case referred to in the editorial is of an ACLU client, Jose Antonio Franco, a mentally retarded man who faced deportation to Mexico after throwing a rock during a fight. Franco spent nearly five years in a detention center, because he had no attorney. He was released only after the ACLU and Public Counsel agreed to represent him.
In addition to the Franco case, our office represented Guillermo Gomez-Sanchez, a Mexican national and long-term legal resident of the United States who suffers from chronic paranoid schizophrenia and other serious mental conditions. The Department of Homeland Security lost Gomez-Sanchez in its immigration prison system for two-and-a-half years while his case was administratively closed as a result of his mental illness.
Last month, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee was asked to decide whether to grant class-action status in a lawsuit brought on behalf of mentally disabled immigrant detainees. If Judge Gee agrees with both the ACLU and the LA Times, a whole class of immigrant detainees who have languished in the system for years could finally see their day in court, side-by-side with their attorney.