The 2 mentally disabled migrants held in the US Immigration and Customs Dentention (ICE) system for more than 4 years that we highlighted in the ICEd Up story on Tuesday were released yesterday from the Otay Mesa Detention facility after judges put their cases on hold due to serious questions about their mental competence. Guillermo Gomez-Sanchez and Jose Antonio Franco Gonzalez had effectively disappeared into the backwaters of the US immigration detention system as they were held to incapable of actively participating in their deportation proceedings.
In Gomez-Sanchez's case, an immigration judge halted proceedings ordered ICE to evaluate his mental competence back in January 2006. They didn't carry out that evaluation until 13 months later and didn't try resubmitting his case until June 2008, two and a half years after the intitial judgement. Last year a judge ordered his release on a $5,000 bond, ruling he was not a flight risk or a danger to the community. However, government attorneys challenged the order.
Franco, who has the mental age of a child, doesn't know his age or birthday, and has trouble counting and cannot tell time according to the ACLU court papers, was released into the care of his family.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a one-sentence statement on the decision to release the detainees: "After a review of their custody status, medical conditions and assurances from their families, we believe their release from ICE custody is appropriate" The fact that that review was forced upon them by a Human Rights watch and ACLU court action, after having the men in their custody for the past four years, obviously did not warrant commenting upon.