U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced new policies to strengthen protections for detained noncitizens with serious mental disorders or conditions. The new guidance, addressed in ICE Directive 11063.2 Identification, Communication, Recordkeeping, and Safe Release Planning for Detained Individuals with Serious Mental Disorders or Conditions, focuses on the identification, treatment, and monitoring of this particularly vulnerable population.
“ICE continues its efforts to implement policies and directives that support a fair, orderly, and humane immigration system,” said ICE Acting Director Tae D. Johnson. “The directive strengthens existing guidelines regarding the treatment of detainees found to have a serious mental disorder or condition, including policies regarding their transfer, removal, or safe release, when appropriate and permitted under law.”
This new directive aligns with and reinforces Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) policy that provides certain procedural protections to unrepresented, detained respondents with serious mental disorders or conditions that may render them incompetent to represent themselves in immigration proceedings.
Updates to the new ICE directive include:
- Providing ICE-specific guidelines on identifying, monitoring, and tracking detainees found to have a serious mental disorder or condition;
- Ensuring ICE will provide to EOIR the information relevant to an individual’s serious mental disorder or condition for an immigration judge to determine whether the individual is competent to represent themselves in removal proceedings;
- Instituting additional safeguards prior to the transfer, release, or removal of individuals with serious mental disorders or conditions and/or who are incompetent to represent themselves in removal proceedings before EOIR, including communication protocols between ICE and attorneys of record, legal representatives, or qualified representatives to ensure efficient information sharing and coordination between the relevant parties; and
- Requiring ICE to properly document in the “Enforce Alien Removal Module,” and any successor systems, all relevant information regarding detained noncitizens who have been found to have a serious mental disorder or condition.
Consistent with ICE’s national detention standards, all persons in ICE custody generally receive a comprehensive examination from a qualified health care professional within 14 days of arrival at a detention facility to identify any medical, mental health, or dental conditions. Individuals identified as having serious mental disorders or conditions are provided appropriate treatment and monitoring. Additionally, information relevant to an individual’s mental state is provided to EOIR so an immigration judge can assess the individual’s competency and appoint counsel if necessary.