Under the supervision of Clinical Teaching Fellow Maunica Sthanki, Immigration and Human Rights Clinic students successfully represented a mentally disabled man from Tanzania. Evan Mascagni ’11, Joseph Spilatro ’11, and 3Ls Staci Makris, Marisa Dada, Kelsey Genevich, and H. Moctezuma Perez-Casillas worked on the case for one year. As a result of their hard work the Immigration Court granted the client relief from removal under the Convention Against Torture and he has been released from custody.
This case was important because it exemplifies the difficulty that mentally ill individuals face in immigration custody. Mentally ill detainees are expected to represent themselves in their immigration proceedings, but oftentimes they have impaired capacities that impede their ability to understand the legal process. The Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has recently been criticized because of their treatment of mentally ill detainees, but unfortunately very little has changed and mentally ill individuals continue to be detained for long periods of time without legal counsel.
The UDC-DCSL Immigration and Human Rights Clinic is committed to representing immigrants who would otherwise lack legal counsel. The clinic is currently representing immigrants in immigration removal proceedings.The clinic is also representing legal permanent residents who are in danger of being removed from the country for a minor crime, as well as non-legal permanent residents who can demonstrate extreme hardship to United States citizen family members.All of the clinic clients have resided in the United States for several years, and have significant family ties to the United States.Removing them would be devastating to their family members, many of whom are United States citizens.