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Big Step Toward Justice for Immigrants with Mental Disabilities: Court Clears Way for Class Action Lawsuit

Jose Franco's mother held a photo of her son, who was held for four years without a hearing

In 2010 a Public Counsel lawsuit exposed a harsh fact: Immigrants with severe mental disabilities are held in U.S. detention centers, sometimes for years, with no way to resolve their cases. That was the story of José Antonio Franco Gonzales, a Mexican immigrant with moderate mental retardation who was detained in federal immigration facilities for over four years without a hearing before he was released to his family last year.

Now a federal court has cleared the way for a class action lawsuit on behalf of Franco and an estimated 1,000 other people like him who are detained every day.

"Imagine being held in jail without even a basic understanding of why you are there," said Public Counsel staff attorney Talia Inlender, who represents Franco in his immigration case. "That's the reality for too many immigrants with severe mental disabilities. Today, we move a step closer to providing these immigrants and their families with the due process that our law requires and that our conscience demands."

Click here to read the press release at our website