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July 2016: Pro Bono Immigration Victory

July 2016

Andre Mulder is a legal permanent resident of the U.S. and adopted son of an American citizen. He was born in Brazil and abandoned as a young child. After wandering the streets of Sao Paolo, the Brazilian police placed him in a Brazilian orphanage; Andre spent the next few years of his life in that orphanage, where he was abused by fellow children and the administrators of the orphanage. Thankfully, Andre was adopted by an American citizen and he moved with her to the U.S., growing up in Detroit, Michigan. As a result of his childhood, he suffered permanent brain damage and that resulted in severe mental impairment. He has an IQ of 56 and the mental abilities of an eight-year-old child, cannot read or write, and failed to complete any special education classes after the tenth grade.

In mid-2015, a misdemeanor crime conviction (which was bumped up to a felony under Michigan’s criminal statutes) resulted in a removal hearing. Andre was unable to afford an attorney and the right to an attorney is not guaranteed in immigration courts, so he represented himself pro se. At the hearing, the immigration judge found that Andre was mentally competent to represent himself without any of the procedural safeguards that are required for mentally incompetent immigrants. Based on that hearing, the immigration judge ordered that Andre be removed back to Brazil, a country he no longer remembered, and without the ability speak Portuguese.

Quinn Emanuel was contacted by a non-profit immigrants’ right organization who were looking for an attorney to handle Andre’s appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). We persuaded the Board of Immigration Appeals to vacate the decision to remove Andre and remand for reconsideration of his competency and to reconsider the legality of Andrew’s removal.