By Miriam Raftery
May 9, 2013 (San Diego's East County) -- For the first time, the United States government will offer legal counsel to immigrant detainees with mental disabilities facing deportation hearings. This is the first expansion of the right to counsel in 30 years – the result of an ACLU lawsuit. Before to last week's federal court ruling, these individuals were not guaranteed legal representation even though they clearly demonstrated tremendous difficulty in representing themselves in the complicated legal proceedings against them.
José Gonzalezis a 33-year-old man who doesn't know his own age and, in many aspects of his life, has the cognitive ability of a two-year-old. Both his parents are lawful permanent residents of the United States, and José had a pending petition for residency. Until last week's historic ruling, the government expected José to represent himself in a deportation hearing – after holding him for five years in a detention facility.