Mentally disabled detainees granted class status

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A federal judge has granted class-action status to a case brought on behalf of mentally disabled detainees who lack legal representation in immigration court.

The order issued under seal in November by U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee was made public Monday. The case involves detainees in California, Washington and Arizona who have been deemed mentally incompetent to represent themselves.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other immigrant advocates want the federal government to appoint lawyers to represent mentally disabled detainees. Advocates brought the case last year on behalf of two men who had been detained for years.

A message left seeking comment at the Department of Justice was not immediately returned.

Immigrants are not required to use attorneys in deportation proceedings and attorneys are not provided free-of-charge in immigration court.

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