IRLI Files BIA Brief Addressing Alien Mental Health Issues

Press Releases

July 26, 2016

Assisting Government Administrative Tribunals Properly Interpret the Law

July 26, 2016

On behalf of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), IRLI has submitted an amicus brief (attached here) to answer several complex questions posed by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) in a case currently before the BIA regarding aliens who suffer from mental health conditions. Questions asked by the BIA included whether commitment to a mental health facility is appropriate where a respondent has a mental health condition that causes him or her to be a danger if at liberty in the United States.

The FAIR brief concluded based on case law, statutory law and regulation that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) has a duty to screen aliens in detention facilities it operates or controls for mental incompetency or disorders, to provide treatment where medically indicated, and to inform the immigration judge of such indicia so that appropriate safeguards can be identified. FAIR noted that it is unclear whether DHS or the Executive Office for Immigration Review (“EOIR”) have authority to civilly commit dangerous aliens to mental health facilities, which could conflict with Supreme Court due process protections for all persons in civil commitment proceedings. However, detention of an alien whose mental disorder presents a danger to the community is mandatory, but remains subject to the same due process temporal constraints that protect other immigration detainees.

Dale L. Wilcox, IRLI’s Executive Director commented, “IRLI is pleased to file this brief on behalf of FAIR regarding these important and sensitive mental health issues. FAIR’s brief strikes the right balance in considering the mental health needs of the alien with the safety and security concerns of our communities and the impartial and full application of our immigration law.”

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