Mental Competency Issues in Immigration Practice: Cyrus D. Mehta

"It is already hard enough for an immigration lawyer to represent a foreign national client in an immigration proceeding, given the language and other cultural barriers, along with the fact that immigration law can be extremely complex and unforgiving.  On top of this, an immigration lawyer who represents a foreign national client with mental competency issues faces even greater challenges, including ethical conundrums.  To what extent can a lawyer represent a client who may not even have the capacity to consent or to comprehend the fact that there is a lawyer who can assist him or her?  This client may be discovered in immigration custody while in the middle of complex removal proceedings.  The lawyer may also encounter a client with mental competency issues who may need to file for immigration benefits such as adjustment of status or naturalization.  This issue has gained even more importance in light of the mandatory appointment of counsel for unrepresented respondents in immigration custody who have mental disorders." - Cyrus D. Mehta, May 23, 2014.