…and mentally impaired people accused of being illegal immigrants although they are American citizens or nationals.
Today the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) posted an article on their blog about a crying scandal in American handling of suspected illegal immigrants: mentally retarded and mentally ill defendants in deportation cases are not provided with attorneys. This remains true even when the defendant is severely impaired and incapable of understanding the case against them. This remains true even when deportation would leave them abandoned in a “country of origin” where they lack family ties, social ties, or the means to get any help.
Fortunately the judges in many of these cases recognize that the defendants are incapable of understanding the proceedings or assisting in their own defense, and dismiss the cases. Defendants often remain in immigration jails for months or years awaiting trial, however. While in jail, they receive no care for their condition. The consequences for them are severe. This is all the more troubling because many of these defendants are American citizens or nationals who have the right to be in, and remain in, the United States. They simply lack the ability to assert that right, and there is nobody to do it for them.
Illegal immigration is a fraught issue these days, in America and in much of the world. There is a great deal of hostility towards those who are not legally in the United States, or who are simply suspected of not being here legally. Many Americans are shamefully willing to see illegal immigrants left to their own resources and abused, even when the immigrant in question is entirely innocent of the decision to come to the United States. Among these are minor children brought here by their parents, often when too young to remember living anywhere else, and mentally impaired people under the care of others.
We Americans need to quit taking out our legitimate fears of our insecure borders and severe economic problems on the innocent. Whoever is guilty for allowing the current situation to develop, they are not.