Dallas News: Immigrants with Mental Illness

Appropriate treatment is difficult for most who live with serious mental illness. Often treatment is relegated to the detention system instead of appropriate community or in-patient facilities.

Just take a look at recent posts out of Iowa,  Las Vegas, Ft. Lauderdale, and Lakeland.

But if you’re an immigrant in the U.S., it’s almost impossible to find appropriate treatment, at least according to an article by the Dallas News.


They get limited mental-health care while in detention, advocates say – and that’s only if they’re diagnosed. They aren’t entitled to competency hearings before standing trial. And the majority of them face judges without legal counsel, and with little recourse to defend themselves from deportation.

. . .

“We are continuing to work … to improve the services and the availability of health care to those in our custody,” said Tim Counts, spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

But immigration court officials acknowledge there’s little guidance for how to handle mental health once these detainees come before a judge. Although judges can’t accept an admission of guilt from an “unrepresented incompetent,” there are no immigration-court proceedings to determine a person’s competency. Judges have to go with their gut – which can be tough to gauge with language barriers and the frequent use of long-distance video conferencing.

What is the solution? Is there a solution. I’d love to hear from you.



One thought on “Dallas News: Immigrants with Mental Illness

  1. Just saw one post at http://arizona.typepad.com/blog/2009/07/is-access-to-health-care-a-fundamental-right.html indicating that the current U.S. Supreme Court Justices (specifically Justice Thomas) note that “Justice Thomas did not embrace the document, and he proposed a couple of alternatives.

    “Today there is much focus on our rights,” Justice Thomas said. “Indeed, I think there is a proliferation of rights.”

    “I am often surprised by the virtual nobility that seems to be accorded those with grievances,” he said. “Shouldn’t there at least be equal time for our Bill of Obligations and our Bill of Responsibilities?””

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