Pro Bono 23 Feb. 2023

Curtis Lawyers Successfully Defend Pro Bono Client in Deportation Proceedings

For the second time, Curtis lawyers successfully defended an individual in removal proceedings before the Baltimore Immigration Court. Curtis argued that pro bono client of Haiti was eligible for deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”). Applicants for CAT relief must show that it is “more likely than not” that they would be tortured if deported to the proposed country of removal. 8 C.F.R. § 1208.16(c)(2).

The Immigration Court held that the client was entitled to relief because it was a “near certainty” that he would be detained upon arrival and tortured in prison if removed to Haiti, in part because he would be singled out for abuse due to his cognitive and mental health issues. A psychiatric evaluation of the client confirmed that his cognitive and mental health issues produced unusual and at times aberrant behavior, and an expert on Haitian country conditions confirmed that criminal deportees are detained upon arrival in Haiti and that individuals with similar cognitive issues are singled out for abuse by prison guards and inmates.

Curtis appeared in the case just after the client had been ordered removed by the Immigration Court in January 2021. Curtis successfully persuaded the BIA to reverse the removal order and to instruct the Immigration Court to further assess the client’s competency. After the Immigration Court found the client had been competent during initial removal proceedings, it reinstated the removal order. Curtis again appealed and obtained a second reversal from the BIA, in which it took the highly unusual step of entering a factual finding that the client lacked competency and required safeguards. On remand, the client was finally able to present his claim for relief with the assistance of counsel and with appropriate safeguards in place. Curtis looks forward to ensuring that DHS releases the client from detention promptly.

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