The Orocopia Schist and related schists are sediments subducted during the Laramide orogeny and are thought to have been underplated as a laterally extensive layer at the base of the crust in the southwestern United States Cordillera. This concept is hard to reconcile with the existence of continental mantle lithosphere in southeastern California and western Arizona. Analytical solutions and numerical modeling suggest that the Orocopia Schist may have ascended through the mantle lithosphere as sediment diapirs or subsolidus crustal plumes to become emplaced in the middle to lower crust. Modeled time-temperature cooling paths are consistent with the exhumation history of the Orocopia Schist and explain an initial period of rapid cooling shortly after peak metamorphism. The Orocopia Schist represents a potential example of relaminated sediment observable at the surface.