Podcast: California’s sanctuary law at center of fierce immigration debate

undocumented immigrantsMunicipalities in California are being pitted against one another after a state law went into effect earlier this year limiting how much local law enforcement can cooperate with ICE agents. SB54, or the California Values Act, makes the entire state a sanctuary, but while some cities are embracing the law, others are openly defying it. NPR reports:

“This is an issue that I take very personally because I am the youngest child of a single immigrant mother with a third-grade education,” says state Sen. Kevin de León, who wrote the law. “I wanted to make sure that our local police officers, our sheriffs, were not a cog in the Trump deportation machine, separating innocent mothers from their children and children from their fathers.”

NPR has more on the contentious California battle over immigrant rights.

 

What Is A Divorce Coach And Why Do You Need One?

divorceIt used to be a coach was just somebody who helped you get better at a sport.  But these days there are all types of coaches – physical fitness coaches, life coaches, marriage coaches, relationship coaches – and even divorce coaches.

You may need an attorney to get divorced, but do you really need a divorce coach?  It turns out that it’s possible you do – but don’t confuse a divorce coach with an attorney.

“The goal of a divorce coach is to try to make the divorce as smooth and painless as possible,”  says Pegotty Cooper, co-founder of Divorce Coaching Inc., (www.certifieddivorcecoach.com), which both provides divorce coaching and trains divorce coaches.  “Attorneys are the only ones who can provide legal advice or advise a client about their rights.”

Cooper, a co-author of Taking the High Road in Divorce – Simple Strategies for Creating a Healthy Divorce, says divorce coaches and divorce attorneys do work together, however. One of the goals of the divorce coach is to help the client prepare to meet with the divorce attorney, including helping the client get all the paperwork together that will be required.  The divorce coach also works with the client to develop ways to make the divorce as painless as possible.

Divorce coaches can help their clients build self-confidence, and provide them with the tools they need to effectively communicate with everyone involved in the process, Cooper says.

She offers these reasons why a divorce coach is so key to a successful divorce:

  • There are many issues to resolve.  The coach can help the client navigate through the details of those decisions.
  • The divorce is complicated. Sometimes in complicated divorces, a spouse just doesn’t know where to start.  A divorce coach can help the client go through the issues and organize them.
  • Money is limited.  By making sure the client is organized and has all the relevant paperwork, meeting with the attorney is more efficient.
  • Emotional support. The divorce coach can offer emotional support to a spouse who may be overwhelmed and not ready to tackle all the painful issues of the divorce.  This is especially true for people trying to tackle their divorce alone.

“A personal divorce coach can help build your self-confidence, and provide you with tools on how to effectively communicate with your spouse,” Cooper says.  “Divorces are huge emotional events, and sometimes friends and relatives mean well but they will push people in the wrong direction.  A professional and caring divorce coach can reduce the stress and help the person get on with their life.’

Jeff Sessions’ hurried justice for immigrants

Attorney General Jeff SessionsImmigration court isn’t like other courts in our country. They’ve long been criticized for the lack of due process, including the fact that defendants, even children, can’t get court-appointed lawyers. Perhaps the biggest difference is that immigration judges are actually employees of the Justice Department, not the judicial branch. And the Attorney General can overrule decisions made by immigration judges. David Hausman of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project writes about how Attorney General Jeff Sessions is using immigration court to deport more people more quickly and waging war on due process.

Podcast: Controversy over AMA Guides

workers compThe sixth edition of the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment is causing some to question its reliability. The guide is used in workers’ compensation cases to rate the level of impairment. In this edition of Workers Comp Matters from the Legal Talk Network, host Alan Pierce talks to Chris Brigham, MD about whether the AMA Guides is a valid way to measure disability ratings.

Migrant mothers describe being separated from their children by the US government

immigrant child in custodyMost of us can only imagine the pain, terror and uncertainty caused when immigrant mothers seeking asylum in the United States are forcibly separated from their children. CNN has details in letters from some of the mothers who have since been reunited with their children, but who say their nightmare is not over.

“My children were far from me and I didn’t know if they were okay, if they were eating or sleeping. I have suffered a lot,” wrote a mother identified as Elena. “ICE harmed us a lot psychologically. We can’t sleep well because my little girl thinks they are going to separate us again. … I wouldn’t want this to happen to anyone.”

The comments come from letters written by parents being held at the Dilley detention center in Texas. The Immigration Justice Campaign provided the letters to CNN as part of their pro bono project to give legal help to migrant families being held in custody.

How to prepare for a divorce

divorceWhile making the decision to get a divorce can be heartbreaking and difficult, there are some things a person should do to prepare themselves for the process. One of the many things to consider is the impact divorce will have on your finances. HuffPost talked to five divorce attorneys for some tips on how to prepare to protect your assets in a divorce. They include knowing your assets, creating a budget, looking for an attorney (of course) and more. 

Immigrant Rights Groups Demand Timely Bond Hearings and Legal Protections for Asylum Seekers

migrant familiesPlaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit challenging the federal government’s targeted efforts to deter and obstruct asylum seekers seeking protection in the United States have filed a motion for preliminary injunction demanding timely bond hearings that comport with due process.

The motion was filed in Padilla v. ICE in federal district court in Seattle, Washington by plaintiffs on behalf of a proposed nationwide class of asylum seekers who are detained after entering the United States. Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and the American Immigration Council represent the plaintiffs and proposed class members.

Plaintiffs are asking the court to order the government to provide qualifying individuals with bona fide asylum claims a bond hearing before an immigration judge within seven days of their request. Currently, there is no specified timeline and some asylum seekers languish for weeks or months before appearing in front of an immigration judge.

In addition, plaintiffs seek an order requiring basic due process protections in the bond hearing, including that immigration judges record the hearings and make individualized findings if they deny release. Despite the fact that immigration courts record all other types of immigration hearings, they do not record bond hearings. Moreover, when an immigration judge denies release, she or he simply marks an “X” on a form and does not state the basis for the decision, leaving asylum seekers with no way to assess the basis for appeal. And, unlike other custody hearings involving civil detention, the immigration court does not require the government to justify continued detention, but instead places the burden on the detained asylum seeker to demonstrate that she or he should be released.

“The Supreme Court has made clear that civil detention cannot be used as a punitive measure,” said Matt Adams, legal director for the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. “Yet, the manner in which the federal government conducts these bond hearings demonstrates that they are being weaponized, imposing prolonged detention and suffering on asylum seekers in a concerted effort to block their asylum applications.”

“Locking people up for weeks or months after they have proven that they have bona fide asylum claim and then denying them a fair and transparent release process is contrary to fundamental pillars of the American judicial system,” said Trina Realmuto, directing attorney at the American Immigration Council.  “We are asking the court to end these injustices and guarantee a fair process.”

The motion for preliminary injunctive relief can be read here, as well as the amended complaint, the motion for class certification, and the government’s motion to dismiss.

Number of migrant children held by government reaches new high

immigrant child in custodyDespite a court order instructing the Trump administration to reunite migrant families who were forcibly separated at the US-Mexico border, The New York Times reports that the number of children still in custody has reached a record high level. The Times reports that there are currently 12,800 migrant children in federally-contracted shelters this month, five times as many since last summer, when 2,400 children were being held. Most of the children did not have their parents with them when they crossed the border. The information was shared with members of Congress, who in turn shared it with the Times. 

Video: Traumatized children at the border

migrant familiesIn June, a Honduran woman seeking asylum in the US and her five-year-old son were forcibly separated at the Mexican border. A pro bono lawyer, Jodi Goodwin, helped reunite them after they spent a month apart. The Atlantic has produced a documentary called The Separated that shows the chaos and trauma caused by migrant families being torn apart.

American Immigration Council Condemns Administration’s Proposal to Indefinitely Detain Children

immigrant child in custodySeptember 6, 2018

Washington, D.C.— Today, the Trump administration proposed new regulations that could lead to the indefinite detention—and needless suffering—of asylum-seeking children. The new guidelines are related to the 1997 Flores settlement agreement, which concerns the care and custody of immigrant children. Although these proposed regulations are supposed to ensure the appropriate treatment of children, instead, they would weaken protections for children and place them at greater risk of trauma and mistreatment.

The following statement is from Beth Werlin, executive director of the American Immigration Council:

“Under the Flores settlement, all children must be treated with ‘dignity, respect, and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors,’ but these new regulations would do the opposite. The federal government’s proposal would expand family detention, lock up parents and children indefinitely, and hold them in unsafe conditions. From our hands-on work providing legal services to detained families through the Dilley Pro Bono Project, we have seen the indecency and serious harm caused by detaining children. And we know, after witnessing the trauma-inducing practice of family separation, child welfare has never been a priority for this administration. This proposal is further evidence of that fact.”

“The manner in which this administration treats migrant children shocks the conscience. Harsh treatment of children must never be the solution. There are viable alternatives to detention that are more humane, less costly, and just as effective at ensuring people comply with their obligations as they face removal proceedings.”