"Mark Lyttle, an American citizen with mental disabilities who was wrongfully detained and deported to Mexico and forced to live on the streets and in prisons for months, settled his case against the federal government this week. Lyttle will receive $175,000 for the suffering he endured after being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), who deported him despite ample evidence that he was a U.S. citizen. The settlement comes after a federal district court in Georgia ruled in Lyttle’s favor in March, holding that the bulk of his claims against the federal defendants should not be dismissed. “What happened to Mark Lyttle is outrageous and unconstitutional,” said Judy Rabinovitz, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, which has been representing Lyttle along with ACLU affiliates and a partner firm. “People with mental disabilities are entitled to due process in immigration court, and it is fundamentally unfair, as well as inhumane, to force them to endure such proceedings alone, without the assistance of a lawyer.” Lyttle’s case is unfortunately not unique, but demonstrates the systemic failures of ICE and the federal government to protect the rights of individuals with mental disabilities. The current lack of procedural safeguards—including no right to appointed counsel—means that even U.S. citizens can end up in immigration detention and be deported. It is a growing problem as more people are being swept up under the nation’s unreasonable detention and deportation practices." - ACLU, Oct. 5, 2012.
[Note: As a litigator, I know that deciding if, when and for how much to settle a case is a tricky business, subject to many variables. Still, this seems like a pittance for so much suffering. Your thoughts? Write me: firstname.lastname@example.org.]