Some immigrants who were deported after being detained in California, Arizona and Washington may have a chance to return to the United States. To have their cases reopened, the deported immigrants must have represented themselves during their deportation hearings and have a qualifying mental illness that was not discovered in a competency determination.

Cases for mentally ill deportees are being reopened because of a settlement that was reached between the Department of Homeland Security and the American Civil Liberties Union. The settlement was finalized by a federal court in September. Some of the serious mental illnesses that will allow deported immigrants to qualify for a reevaluation of their immigration case include major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and psychosis.

Since the case was filed, the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security has implemented new systems for assessing mentally ill detainees. Now, immigrants facing deportation are screened for mental health issues and provided with representation if they are found to be incapable of representing themselves. A staff attorney for the ACLU’s office in Southern California said that the new settlement provides deportees a measure of fairness and dignity that they were previously denied.

A person with a mental illness who was previously deported from the United States may want to talk to an attorney about the new settlement. An attorney may be able to file all of the necessary paperwork and gather supporting evidence for a new deportation hearing. If an individual is currently in immigration detention, an attorney may be able to help the client to avoid deportation altogether.

Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune, “Deal will let mentally ill deportees back into U.S.,” Tatiana Sanchez, Sept. 30, 2015