HealthForumOnline Updates Online Continuing Education Course on Immigration Cases: The Psychologist’s Role as Expert Witness

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HealthForumOnline’s (HFO) newly updated continuing education (CE) course, The Psychologist’s Role as Expert Witness in Immigration Cases, reviews political trends and current immigration cancellation and deportation laws along with the psychological criteria for cancellation of deportation cases and related issues enabling mental health professionals to best provide expert witness testimony in these federal cases. HFO offers over 100 online CE courses for psychologists, social workers, counselors and therapists that are fast, convenient and especially cost-effective - with free ongoing access to course updates.

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Expert Witnesses must be informed about political trends and current immigration cancellation and deportation laws to best consult, assess, report and provide expert testimony at the Federal level.

Philadelphia, PA (PRWEB) February 9, 2017 – HealthForumOnline (HFO), a nationally-approved (APA, ASWB, NBCC, NYSED) provider of online continuing education (CE) is pleased to announce new updates to our course entitled, The Psychologist’s Role as Expert Witness in Immigration Cases. Updates to this online CE course are timely as immigration laws are in a state of flux and confusion.

In 1996, then President Clinton enacted legislation making it more difficult to obtain lawful permanent residence by obtaining a “green card,” and raising fees and civil and criminal penalties for violating the law. These legislative changes resulted in several shifts. First, the number of Mexican immigrants deported from the U.S. increased (1). Interestingly, data indicate Mexicans are leaving the U.S. at higher rates than they are arriving -- with a net loss of 140,000 Mexicans (2). These shifts are attributed to stricter enforcement of U.S. border laws (3), as well as fewer perceived economic opportunities in the U.S.

Not surprisingly, U.S. border apprehensions of Mexicans fell to just 230,000 in 2014 -- levels not seen since 1971 (4). More border arrests involved people from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala who were fleeing war, drought, violence, and deteriorating economics. Statistics from the Department of Homeland Security show an overall drop in deportations since 2006 and a 30% decline in border arrests from 2014 to 2015.

Despite these trends, President Trump has made immigration reform a primary goal. Whether building a border wall or signing executive orders temporarily suspending immigration from 7 countries, immigration issues are ever more relevant to our debate about national security, constitutional law, societal values, and economics (5).

Whether President Trump’s “travel ban” is reinstated or brought before the Supreme Court remains to be seen. What’s clear is that immigration is a more salient and complex topic than ever and will remain so indefinitely. We’ll likely also see an increasing presence of psychologists as “expert witnesses” in Immigration cases -- an emerging subfield within forensic psychology.

“Expert Witnesses” in these cases determine the degree of “hardship” that would ensue if the person is deported. Hardship is a multi-factorial concept viewed on a continuum, ranging from ordinary hardship, exceptional hardship, exceptional and extreme hardship, extremely unusual hardship to the greatest hardship (e.g., asylum seekers). Hardship determination involves cultural and language differences, psychological stressors related to deportation process and potential relocation. Typically cases extend beyond direct hardship to the individual seeking deportation cancellation to include impact on family. Specific services include ongoing attorney consultations; history taking/record reviews; psychological assessment of the individual and/or family; preparations of psychological reports, and in-person or telephonic expert witness testimony at the Federal hearing. However, the forensic psychologist’s role requires strict adherence to legal and ethical standards. Professionals must be informed about political trends and current immigration cancellation and deportation laws to best consult, assess, report and provide expert testimony at the Federal level.

This newly updated online CE course discusses the psychologist’s role as expert witness in immigration cases and reviews current psychological criteria for cancellation of deportation. Attention is paid to the psychological assessment of “exceptional hardship,” ethical guidelines for relationships with attorneys and the court, including the format for making recommendations to the Court.

Mental health providers can choose from HFO’s over 20 categories of CE course topics related to behavioral health (i.e., ethics, cancer, women’s health, cultural diversity, eating disorders, reproduction/sexuality, aging, addiction, chronic/acute illness, psychotherapy, long-term care, neuropsychology, pain management, spirituality, LGBT issues). HFO’s over 100 online CE courses are fast, convenient and cost-effective.

1.    U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2014 https://www.dhs.gov/immigration-statistics/yearbook/2013
2.    Gonzalez-Barrera, A. (2015). More Mexicans Leaving Than Coming to the U.S. Pew Research Center. http://www.pewhispanic.org/2015/11/19/more-mexicans-leaving-than-coming-to-the-u-s/
3.    Rosenblum, M.R., & Meissner, D. (2014). The Deportation Dilemma: Reconciling Tough and Humane Enforcement. Migration Policy Institute. http://www.migrationpolicy.org/research/deportation-dilemma-reconciling-tough-humane-enforcement
4.    Krogstad, J.M., & Passel, J.S. (2014). U.S. border apprehensions of Mexicans fall to historic lows. Pew Research Center. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/12/30/u-s-border-apprehensions-of-mexicans-fall-to-historic-lows/
5.    Gravelle, T.B. (2016). Party Identification, Contact, Contexts, and Public Attitudes toward Illegal Immigration. Public Opinion Quarterly, 80(1), 1-25.

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Michelle Rodoletz, Ph.D.
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