‘Forgotten’ Pair With Disabilities To Be Released, ACLU Says
Two men with disabilities will be released after more than five years in federal immigration custody just days after the American Civil Liberties Union intervened in their cases, attorneys representing the men indicate.
Jose Antonio Franco Gonzalez and Guillermo Gomez-Sanchez will be released to their families Wednesday in California, according to the ACLU. The announcement comes after the ACLU filed petitions in federal court last Friday on behalf of the two men calling them “forgotten” and alleging they were deprived of their right to due process.
Gonzalez, 29, has an intellectual disability and does not know how old he is or how to tell time. A judge already determined that he is not competent to understand the proceedings against him. Meanwhile, Gomez-Sanchez, 48, has paranoid schizophrenia and remained in custody even though officials determined he posed no risk of flight or danger.
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Both men are Mexican nationals who have been detained since 2005. They will remain under electronic monitoring after their release, ACLU officials said.
“We have waited five years for this moment,” Ruben Franco, Gonzalez’s brother said in a statement. “This was such a long struggle that nobody should have to go through.”
It is estimated that 15 percent of those detained by immigration officials have some type of mental disability, though there are no standard procedures for dealing with such detainees.
While pleased by the release of Gonzalez and Gomez-Sanchez, ACLU officials say lawsuits should not be necessary to secure the release of detainees with mental health issues.
“We remain concerned about the fate of many other detainees who remain lost in the immigration prison system due to their mental disabilities,” said Ahilan Arulanantham of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.