Attorney Majid Foroozandeh Discusses Deportation of the Mentally Ill

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In honor of October 10 being World Mental Health Day and October 11-17 Mental Illness Awareness Week, immigration attorney Majid Foroozandeh discusses immigration cases as they pertain to mental illness, including deportation of the mentally incompetent.

Majid Foroozandeh

In essence, the legal system is not equipped to deal with the ever increasing number of cases involving mental illness.

In the United States, said Majid, issues involving representing a defendant in a criminal case or a respondent in an immigration case are substantial and “always” present challenges. “In essence, the legal system is not equipped to deal with the ever increasing number of cases involving mental illness,” said Majid. “In U.S. immigration cases involving deportation of the mentally incompetent, especially respondents with past criminal history, the emphasis is on the criminal act.”

Majid also cites a deportation case in Canada (IMM-3404-10, 2011 FC 895, Federal Court of Canada) discussed in The Gleaner on May 21, 2015, where the United Nations ruled that Canada’s deportation of a mentally ill Jamaican man who had lived in that country for much of his life amounted to cruel and inhumane treatment. Canadian authorities ruled that he was not eligible to be in the country as a result of his 2005 conviction for assault with a weapon. Canada argued that the man’s removal was reasonable in the circumstances and proportionate to the gravity of the crimes committed, and the danger posed to the Canadian public. According to the UN Human Rights Committee, the actions of Canada effectively left the man without medical and family support.

“Similar to the Canadian case, the U.S. government tends to be careless about the future of the deportee once deported to his or her homeland, so long as the person is no longer a burden on the United States,” said Majid. “Effectuation of deportation on a mentally ill person, irrespective of prior convictions or charges, depicts a mockery of our constitutional Eighth Amendment’s concept of cruel and unusual punishment.”

Majid, of the Law Offices of Foroozandeh, APC, further stated that sometimes a judge’s only remedy in an immigration case is to close the case administratively, and it is not uncommon for the mentally ill to remain in detention and be forgotten for a period over six months or at times, years. Short of a challenge to free the detainee, especially in cases that the mentally ill detainee cannot afford an attorney, the detainee may remain in immigration custody.

“This alone presents practitioners with an ethical obligation that loses its balance facing the cost of representing an indigent mentally ill person in Federal custody,” said Majid. “It is noteworthy that a detainee during the removal proceedings may petition the court for a bond hearing to facilitate his or her release.”

The bail and its amount is discretionary with the immigration judge, which is determined on a case-by-case basis and subject to opposition by the government’s trial counsel, and if in fact the bail amount is prohibitive, which in some cases it is, then the mentally ill detainee may remain in detention, awaiting care, or to be released to receive care. “Add this to the fact that a mentally ill person cannot assist his or her own counsel in his or her defense and this gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘justice served,’” said Majid.

Majid stresses that people or their loved ones that are involved in such a case immediately utilize the services provided by a qualified immigration law firm, such as those of the Law Offices of Foroozandeh, APC. For more information, please call (949) 336-8505.

About Law Offices of Foroozandeh, APC
Law Offices of Foroozandeh, APC is an Orange County–based law firm engaged in handling cases involving immigration, DUI/DWI, personal injury, bankruptcy, real estate, employment and labor, business and contract issues. They are located at 9891 Irvine Center Drive, suite 130, Irvine, CA 92618, and represent clients throughout Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego Counties.

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