CAIR Coalition and Cooley Collaborate on Mental Health Practice Manual

The Practice Manual for Attorneys Representing Detained Immigrants with Mental Health Issues is a joint project of CAIR Coalition and pro bono partner Cooley Godward Kronish. The manual is designed to help attorneys represent immigrants who have mental health issues throughout the immigration detention and removal (deportation) process.


In 2008, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") detained nearly 400,000 immigrants. Less than half of all immigrants in removal proceedings have legal representation. While individuals have a right to counsel in immigration cases, the government has no obligation to provide counsel (unlike criminal cases). Not surprisingly, legal representation makes an enormous difference in outcome: immigrants represented by counsel are 50% more likely to avoid deportation.

The inherent complexity of the immigration legal process and stress of detention presents problems to all detained immigrants, but especially to those with mental health issues. Statistics are incomplete regarding the number of immigrants who suffer from mental illness, but anecdotal evidence suggests that detained immigrants face widespread mental health issues.

Many attorneys providing representation do so on a pro bono basis without any immigration law experience. This manual will provide a practical overview of the immigration detention and removal processes and the specific challenges facing detained immigrants with mental health issues. Chapters include: Obtaining Medical Consent, Records and Treatment; Litigation Strategies for Mentally Incompetent Client; Legal Relief; Creating the Record to Win the Claim, and Post-Adjudication Issues. The manual also has an extensive appendix that includes a wealth of sample forms, motions and other resources to assist both novice and experienced practitioner alike.

Click here to download a copy of the manual.