In Texas, where 29 percent of immigration detainees are held while the government tries to deport them, a new study found high levels of mental illness and mistreatment at every stage. In "Justice for Immigration's Hidden Population," public interest law center Texas Appleseed and law firm Akin Gump report on stories of several detainees without the medical or legal tools to prevent their slides into mental incompetency.
One example detailed in the report is that of a 50-year-old legal resident of New York City, who suffers from schizophrenia. A state judge determined him mentally incompetent to stand trial on trespassing charges. Instead of serving 90 days in a mental institution, as ordered by the judge, the defendant was sent to an immigration detention facility in Texas, where he underwent deportation hearings without counsel. With his family uninformed of his whereabouts, the gentleman was denied medical attention for weeks before being deported to the Dominican Republic.
The New York Times summarizes the report:
For lawyers offering free legal information at large immigration detention centers in remote parts of Texas, the task is difficult enough: coaching hundreds of detainees on how to represent themselves at assembly-line deportation hearings. But the lawyers soon discover a more daunting problem: many detainees are too mentally ill or mentally disabled to understand anything.