ICE moves to protect non-citizen Caribbean immigrants with serious mental health disorders

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has announced new policies to strengthen protections for detained non-citizen Caribbean and other immigrants with serious mental disorders or conditions.

The new guidance, which is addressed in ‘ICE Directive 11063.2 Identification, Communication, Recordkeeping, and Safe Release Planning for Detained Individuals with Serious Mental Disorders or Conditions,’ focuses on the identification, treatment and monitoring of this particularly vulnerable population.

“ICE continues its efforts to implement policies and directives that support a fair, orderly, and humane immigration system,” said ICE Acting Director Tae D Johnson.

“The directive strengthens existing guidelines regarding the treatment of detainees found to have a serious mental disorder or condition, including policies regarding their transfer, removal, or safe release, when appropriate and permitted under law,” Johnson continued.

ICE said its new directive aligns with, and reinforces the US Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) policy that provides certain procedural protections to unrepresented, detained

respondents with serious mental disorders or conditions “that may render them incompetent to represent themselves in immigration proceedings.”

The new directive includes: Providing ICE-specific guidelines on identifying, monitoring, and tracking detainees found to have a serious mental disorder or condition; and ensuring ICE will provide to EOIR, the information relevant to an individual’s serious mental disorder or condition for an immigration judge to determine whether the individual is competent to represent themselves in removal proceedings.

The directive also calls for instituting additional safeguards prior to the transfer, release or removal of immigrants with serious mental disorders or conditions and/or who are incompetent to represent themselves in removal proceedings before EOIR, including communication protocols between ICE and attorneys of record, legal representatives or qualified representatives “to ensure efficient information sharing and coordination between the relevant parties,” ICE said.

In addition, the directive requires ICE to properly document in the “Enforce Alien Removal Module,” and any successor systems, “all relevant information regarding detained non-citizens who have been found to have a serious mental disorder or condition.”

Consistent with ICE’s national detention standards, ICE said all persons in its custody generally receive a comprehensive examination from a qualified health care professional within 14 days of arrival at a detention facility to identify any medical, mental health or dental conditions.

“Individuals identified as having serious mental disorders or conditions are provided appropriate treatment and monitoring,” ICE said.

“Additionally, information relevant to an individual’s mental state is provided to EOIR, so an immigration judge can assess the individual’s competency and appoint counsel if necessary,” ICE added.

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