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Immigrant with mental illness granted asylum by appeals court

America has a proud history of taking in people from around the world whose situation has become untenable. In many countries, having a particular political stance or sexual orientation can make life difficult and often dangerous. Immigrants may need to plead their case before officials in order to obtain temporary or permanent resident status; failing to do so could mean deportment to the place where they could be at risk.

One man from Tanzania recently took one step closer to being able to stay in this country. He had been in the U.S. on a temporary visa, but it expired in 2006. In 2010, the Department of Homeland Security attempted to deport him. However, the man stated his case to the authorities that he would be persecuted in Tanzania on account of his mental illness.

In his home country, many people regard mental illness not as something that can be controlled with medication, but as demonic possession that is contagious. As a result, the man was shuttled between prisons and hospitals and was rejected by his family. Judges in his case noted that when the man is having an episode, he feels as though he has superhuman powers. This has led him, more than once, to wander onto busy streets in a misguided attempt to control the flow of traffic and prevent accidents.

Not all cases are as dramatic as this one, but many immigrants to this country need assistance to remain in the country that they call home. An experienced immigration attorney may be able to help smooth the path to citizenship for people in this situation.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Mentally Ill African Granted U.S. Asylum," Dan McCue, Jan. 21, 2014

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