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Deported Immigrants Will Get Due Process, Feds Foot the Bill

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on October 14, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Immigrants who suffered mental disabilities and were forced to leave the United States will finally have their day in court -- with competent representation.

A Federal judge sitting in Los Angeles, Hon. Dolly Gee, approved a settlement that would allow hundreds of deported immigrants suffering from severe mental disabilities to return to the United States to contest their deportation with the aid of the ACLU. The nearly 900 plaintiffs brought a class action suit against against Eric Holder in 2011; and the ruling comes to them as a victory.

Hundreds of Cases

In the case of Jose Antonia Franco Gonzalez vs. Eric Holder, the ACLU Foundation of Southern California brought a class action suit against the federal government on behalf of immigrants suffering from serious metal diabilities. Originally, each case was brought on an individualized basis; and heard in California, Washington, and Arizona before the government allowed competency screenings that would span the United States in determining eligibility for legal aid. The lead plaintiff of the case was ordered deported but remained in the United States. At the time, he had the mental capacity of a child. in October of 2014, the Court ordered Federal Officials to begin screeing which began January.

Turning the Tide

The winnability of the case took a turn for the more favorable when, in 2013, Judge Gee ruled that immigrants with serious mental disabilities are legally entitled to competent representation when defending against their own deportation during hearings. Although the ACLU had originally demanded $15 million in attorney fees and costs, Gee granted a final settlement number of $9.5 million -- a substantial victory, all considered.

Also, returning to the United States after being deported can result in a felony. However, the signed settlement agreement will allow the deported individuals to return to the United States to appear for their competency hearings -- all on the U.S. government's dime.

The ACLU has reacted favorably to the ruling, calling it a "landmark."

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