Disability Law United Joins with Friends to File Amicus Brief for Full Protections Under Section 504

On April 5, Disability Law United joined with Disability Rights Advocates, Immigrant Defenders Law Center, and Pangea Legal Services to file a brief of amici curiae to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The amici were represented by law firm O’Melveny & Myers.

The Petitioner, an individual with mental health disabilities, was not provided the accommodations he needed to fully participate in his immigration proceedings. The Immigration Judge denied the Petitioner’s petition to terminate proceedings and, in September 2020, the Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed that decision. This new amicus brief challenges that decision as a violation of constitutional and statutory requirements.

Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, federally-funded agencies (including immigration courts) must provide “meaningful access” to their programs. The amicus brief points out that the Immigration Judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals had an affirmative obligation to identify and provide the necessary accommodations for the Petitioner. In certain cases where accommodations are insufficient for the person to understand and participate in immigration proceedings, such as in this case, the proper accommodation may be termination of immigration proceedings.

The history of the U.S. immigration system is rife with discrimination against individuals with disabilities. However, brief writers say, the law requires that “immigration proceedings be fundamentally fair,” and they have joined together to issue that reminder.