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Noncitizens with Mental Competency Issues in Removal Proceedings


In contrast to the criminal system, virtually no safeguards exist in removal proceedings for respondents with mental disabilities. Each year, untold numbers of noncitizens with mental disabilities are ordered deported without access to counsel or any assessment of their cognitive capabilities. The issue has taken on greater urgency following extensive reports of the challenges that immigrants with mental disabilities face in removal proceedings, as well as alarming accounts of the mistaken deportation of U.S. citizens with mental disabilities. This page contains summaries of recent and ongoing cases regarding the rights of noncitizens with mental disabilities.

Latest Developments | Additional Resources

Latest Developments

Board Establishes Framework for Addressing Competency Issues
Matter of M-A-M-, 25 I&N Dec. 474 (BIA 2011)

Alumni of the Month: Ignacio De Solminihac Sierralta

February, 2013
Map of Chile

 In the winter of 2010, Ignacio De Solminihac Sierralta arrived in New York City to start a law internship. He was only in the US for two months, but on the day before his scheduled flight back to Chile, February 27, 2010, the sixth largest earthquake ever recorded hit Chile. The magnitude 8.8 earthquake also set off a devastating tsunami that reached all the way across the Pacific Ocean to Japan. Here’s his story. Read more...

Somy Ali honored for helping immigrant women

Published on Fri, May 20, 2011

Plantation resident Somy Ali, founder of No More Tears, a nonprofit that helps rescue immigrant women from domestic abuse, will receive an American Heritage Award from the American Immigration Council in June in San Diego.

The mission of the American Immigration Council is to recognize the contributions of American’s immigrants, honor immigrant history and shape how Americans think and act towards immigration.

Past honorees include tenor Placido Domingo, musician Carlos Santana, Nobel Prize winning physicist Daniel Tsui, former Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff General John Shalikashvili, baseball player Sammy Sosa and therapist Ruth Westheimer.

Born in Pakistan, Ali, a former Bollywood actress, has helped 85 women since 2006

. Ali and supporters find the women apartments and help them with legal matters and relocation. They secure donations of food, clothing, household goods and funds to help the women make a fresh start.

Ali’s line of socially-conscious clothing, So-Me Designs, also contributes 10 percent of its profits to No More Tears.

Published in the Miami Herald

Obama's Immigration Rhetoric at Odds with Record

Published on Tue, Jul 26, 2011

WASHINGTON, Jul 26, 2011 (IPS) - "Our American family will only be as strong as our Latino community," U.S. President Barack Obama said in his address at the National Council of La Raza's annual conference in Washington on Monday.

"We're going to keep working with you because for more than four decades, NCLR has fought for opportunities for Latinos from city centres to farm fields and that fight – to get a decent education, to find a good job, to make of our lives what we will – has never been more important than it is today," he said.

Obama thanked the NCLR – the country's largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organisation – for allowing him to "poach" its alumni, naming Cabinet Secretary Hilda Solis and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor as just two of the hundreds of Latinas and Latinos currently serving in his administration.

The president also blasted the Republican Party for backpedaling on its policies of five years ago, reminding the gathering that 23 Republican senators supported comprehensive immigration reform in 2006 because it was the "right thing to do".

"Today, they've walked away," he said.

Obama also lamented the fate of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act – a 2001 legislative proposal that would grant conditional permanent residency to immigrant students who graduate U.S. high schools or arrived in the country as legal minors – which passed through the House earlier this year only to be blocked by fierce opposition from Senate Republicans.

The Immigration Policy Center held a briefing Monday on the Republicans' latest opposition to immigration reforms.

If passed, the 'Hinder the Administration's Legalization Temptation' (HALT) Act – which the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement debated Tuesday – would suspend all discretionary forms of immigrant relief until Jan. 21, 2013, a day after the next presidential inauguration.Read more...

Published in the Inter Press Service

J-1 Alumni Impact Survey

Do the J-1 intern and trainee programs sponsored by the American Immigration Council produce a lasting and positive impacts on the lives of the J-1 visa holders? Do the J-1 visa holders leave with a lasting and positive impression of the United States? The responses from our alumni survey indicate an overwhelming “Yes.”

Survey results show that our alumni “Learned, Left and Leveraged” their experience in America. 

  • They learned from their host company sponsors and about American culture–20% arrived in the US with a very positive impression but 59% left with a very positive impression.
  • The vast majority left when their visas ended—89% reported that they left the United States after the conclusion of their J-1 program.
  • After returning home they leveraged their new skills into new jobs and expanded responsibilities—95% of the respondents reported that the J-1 training or internship has had an impact on their current career


Quick Fact: The cost of detention

It costs roughly $166 per day for ICE to detain one person. ICE spends $5.5 million per day to detain 33,400 people in over 250 facilities. Furthermore, over half of detainees did not have criminal records and traffic offenses accounted for roughly 20 percent of those who did have criminal records.

Small-town crash sparks calls for illegal immigration crackdown in Mass.

Published on Thu, Sep 29, 2011

An apparent drunk-driving fatality in the small Massachusetts town of Milford has ignited a state-wide campaign to crack down on illegal immigration.

Last month, Ecuadoran Nicholas Guaman was charged with vehicular homicide for allegedly running down 23-year-old motorcyclist Matthew Denice in his truck while drunk. Guaman didn't have a driver's license.

The victim's family began advocating for Massachusetts to begin using the federal Secure Communities program. Denice's surviving family members maintain that tighter immigration enforcement could have prevented the fatal crash, since Guaman had a prior arrest and a Secure Communities review of his record would have resulted in his deportation.

A few thousand Ecuadorans, many of them undocumented, live in Milford, a town of 25,000 about 40 miles southwest of Boston. The immigrants work primarily in roofing and service jobs, according to radio station WBUR.

"If one of those factors had been different my son would still be here," Denice's mother told the local Fox station. "If we had the Secure Communities . . . he would have been deported."


Research from University of Colorado sociology professor Tim Wadsworth found that in U.S. cities with at least 50,000 people, an influx of immigrants was correlated to a decrease in crime between 1990 and 2000. But because the U.S. Census doesn't distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants, it's difficult for researchers to know the specific effect of illegal immigrants on crime. The Immigration Policy Center said in a report in 2007 that incarceration rates for young men of every ethnic group are lowest among immigrants, legal and illegal.

Published in the Yahoo News