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Immigration Protections Sought For People With Mental Disabilities

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Xiu Ping Jiang has a history of mental illness and suicide attempts, but when she was picked up by immigration agents in Florida in 2007, the woman who fled China after being forcibly sterilized, was locked up and provided no assistance despite her obvious need for medical and legal help.

Jiang’s story is not uncommon, advocates say, among people with mental illness or low competency who get caught up in the immigration system. Often such individuals are left to languish in jails, like Jiang did, awaiting deportation with little understanding of what’s going on or why, all the while at risk of further deterioration of their mental state.

For her part, Jiang was only able to leave the jail after her sisters were able to secure a lawyer to represent her.

Now, a group of advocates, attorneys and mental health experts are asking Attorney General Eric Holder to afford individuals with mental illness and other disabilities protections in the immigration system similar to those they typically receive in other courts.

In a letter, the group of 77 said they would like to see a lawyer appointed for anyone with a mental disability and a guardian ad litem provided for anyone found to be mentally incompetent, reports The New York Times. To read more click here.

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