Assumed Sane

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Cornell Law Review Online


In 2014, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) held in Matter of G-G-S-that a noncitizen’s mental health status at the time of an offense is irrelevant to determining whether the offense is a “particularly serious crime” for immigration purposes. Since a “particularly serious crime” is a bar to asylum and withholding of removal, it can result in a noncitizen’s deportation to a country where he or she faces a serious risk of persecution. In deciding that immigration judges “are constrained by how mental health issues were addressed as part of the criminal proceedings,” the BIA failed to recognize the many reasons why criminal proceedings often do not actually take into account the role of mental illness. This Essay explicitly examines those reasons in arguing that evidence of mental illness should be permitted as part of the “particularly serious crime” determination.

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