Immigration


Warning sign posted at the international boundary between the United States and Canada in Point Roberts, Washington. (photo via Wikimedia Commons.)

Warning sign posted at the international boundary between the United States and Canada in Point Roberts, Washington. (photo via Wikimedia Commons.)

In past months, I’ve been privileged to share recent research on the lives of migrants. The work has been done by Dr. Emily Bashah and her colleagues Louise M. Baca and Karen L. Suyemoto. Focused on “the lived experiences of undocumented immigrants,” the work is compelling, timely, and accessible to non-researchers (not always easy to do!).

(You can read my previous posts here and here.)

Today, I share their third and final publication that has been published in Psychology Today on the narrative qualitative themes.

This essay is titled “Nature of Survival: Emerging themes from migrant journeywomen and implications for social policy.” If you’re in a hurry, jump to the bottom of their post where they detail the implications. As the authors write, “As evidenced by the women’s testimonial themes, more just and humane policies are needed to provide immigrants rights to live and work in the U.S. with legal options and protections.”

Once again, if you have thoughts on how we could cover the legal aspects of immigration in a thoughtful and compelling way, write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Border fence separating Mexico and United States.

Border fence separating Mexico and United States.

Central American migrants in southern Mexico, 2008 (Photo: Peter Haden, Wikimedia Commons).

Central American migrants in southern Mexico, 2008 (Photo: Peter Haden, Wikimedia Commons).

About a month ago, I was pleased to share some research that examines “the lived experiences of undocumented immigrants.” Written by Dr. Emily Bashah and colleagues, it yielded a view into a topic that is too little addressed—the challenges faced by Latinas in their legal and geographic journey.

I am happy to share a second post with you today, also by Dr. Bashah, who lives and works here in Arizona. It is a follow-up to her previous coverage, and it examines “the immigrant women’s core narrative” in Psychology Today.

You’ll see that what these researchers seek to do is to make visible the migrants’ own stories, which rarely factor into public policy dialogues. Here is how the post opens (citations omitted here):

Dr. Emily Bashah

Dr. Emily Bashah

“Undocumented Latinas who cross the Southwestern border into the United States face a myriad of challenges. Among the risks psychological research has identified: trauma, abuse, violence, xenophobia, acculturative stress …, oppression, and lack of legal protection. With that in mind, we wanted to understand the lived experiences of undocumented Latinas who were detained and deported, with particular focus on the challenges they faced and the resiliency that facilitated their survival. The Kino Border Initiative, an organization that provides humanitarian aid in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, supplied a randomized sample … of testimonials from deported Latinas living in a women’s shelter within 2010-2011.”

“The following passages are a compilation of major themes generated from the women’s stories. Identifying information has been redacted to protect respondents’ confidentiality, while also maintaining the richness of qualitative testimonials in original narrative form.”

Read the whole post here.

If you have thoughts on how we could cover the legal aspects of immigration in a thoughtful and compelling way, write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

The experience of some immigrants in the Southwest is described in new research.

The experience of some immigrants in the Southwest is described in new research.

Last month, I had the pleasure to attend an event commemorating the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project. (In an upcoming issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine, we hope to cover their 25th anniversary year.) It’s always great to catch up with the staff and lawyers who work hard to ensure fair processes and aim for optimal outcomes for their clients.

Dr. Emily Bashah

Dr. Emily Bashah

While at the gathering hosted by Lewis Roca Rothgerber, I met a researcher who has been studying the “lived experiences of undocumented immigrants.” Dr. Emily Bashah, with her colleagues, has spoken with many of those who have sought a better life through migration.

I learned that she not only does research on important public issues, but she is adept at synopsizing them into readable blog posts.

Today, I invite you to read one of her posts, written by Emily and colleagues Lois M. Baca and Karen L. Suyemoto. It’s titled “Crossing the Line,” and it allows the migrants to describe their own sometimes harrowing experiences.

As the researchers note:

“Although not all undocumented immigrants who cross the Southwest border face coercion, exploitation, or other violations of human rights that constitute human and sex trafficking, the risks are prevalent.”

Among the compelling stories, the blog post also shared the Power and Control Wheel, which is stunning in its stark recitation of the variety of abuses that immigrant women and children may face.

Source: National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence. (2012). Immigrant power and control wheel

Immigrant power and control wheel. Source: National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence. (2012).

Dr. Bashah tells me that she also plans to publish another blog that more specifically speaks to the deported Latinas’ lived experiences. I’ll share that when I see it.

 

Dr. David Weil, Director of the Wage & Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor, speaks at the University of Arizona Medical School, Phoenix, April 1, 2015. On stage are Wage and Hour Division Phoenix District Director Eric Murray (at left) and Attorney Matt Meaker, who was also the event coordinator (Photo courtesy of the DOL Wage and Hour Division.)

Dr. David Weil, Director of the Wage & Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor, speaks at the University of Arizona Medical School, Phoenix, April 1, 2015. On stage are Wage and Hour Division Phoenix District Director Eric Murray (at left) and Attorney Matt Meaker, who was also the event coordinator (Photo courtesy of the DOL Wage and Hour Division.)

A recent visit to Arizona by a federal official was made possible by attorneys and others concerned about employee misclassification. The result was a day of speaking events and community meetings for Dr. David Weil, Director of the Wage & Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor.

It’s hard to overestimate the economic and other problems that misclassification causes.

At an April 1 event, Wage and Hour Division Phoenix District Director Eric Murray said that fully one-half of his office’s time is taken up with the issue. It affects: individual workers who may be underpaid, state and other agencies that get artificially lower revenue because of the errors, and businesses that may be forced into difficult decisions regarding compliance.

Wage and Hour Division Phoenix District Director Eric Murray speaks at employee misclassification event, April 1, 2015.

Wage and Hour Division Phoenix District Director Eric Murray speaks at employee misclassification event, April 1, 2015.

That constellation of problems led lawyers like Matt Meaker to form the Employee Misclassification Compliance Assistance Program (EMCAP) Working Group. He is the group’s Chair, and he took the lead on bringing the issue to the attention of the federal agency.

The subject generates much passion, Meaker said at the April 1 event. But it is not an easy subject to confront.

“Good guys want to compete on a level playing field,” Meaker told a roomful of employment lawyers, contractors and their representatives, and others. “They want to be good stewards of industry.”

Attorney Matt Meaker speaks at employee misclassification event, April 1, 2015.

Attorney Matt Meaker speaks at employee misclassification event, April 1, 2015.

And so a working group created a pilot program that became EMCAP. It allows “candid talks about business decisions, not just legal issues.”

The keynote speaker at the University of Arizona auditorium in downtown Phoenix was Dr. David Weil. In public remarks and a half-hour interview afterward, he explored the landscape of misclassification, its roots and future possible solutions.

Highlighting the politically fraught nature of his position, Weil was the first Senate-confirmed Wage and Hour Administrator in a decade. As he did in his confirmation hearings (introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren), he spoke in Phoenix at length on misclassification.

A portion of his confirmation hearing is below; his remarks on misclassification begin at 2:40 (though Senator Warren’s intro is worth watching too):

Given that political landscape, it’s not surprising that Weil comes from a business school (at Boston University). In Phoenix, he described his business bona fides and said he was “proud of his decades in a business school.” And he described the mission of the Department of Labor as twofold: to understand that business is a fundamental part of our economy, and to protect workers.

But on the elevator-pitch version of the DOL’s mission, Weil is crystal-clear: “Our job is to make sure people get a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.”

The reality of the department’s resources complicates that vision considerably. Weil discussed the strategic thinking that must go into enforcement decisions. As DOL staffers gaze at a landscape with 7.3 million workplaces, they have become adept at reviewing data to identify red flags. They also look closely at industries that have had traditional problems with misclassification—construction, janitorial, hospitals, restaurants, and logistics, to name a few.

Weil used the title of his book The Fissured Workplace to explain more deeply the challenging predicaments presented by an evolving economy. As companies have decided to focus on “core competencies” and shed “ancillary” activities, efficiencies have increased, even as the number of people on the payroll has decreased.

But what happens to those ancillary functions and all the people who used to do them? Often, they remain, but are now employed by a third-party entity, ostensibly more adept at that particular function.

That kind of outsourcing and subcontracting is not new, Weil admits. But what is new is the stringent and detailed standards that the large brands impose on those third-party firms and their many employees. The larger companies need to ensure a consistent delivery of all their brand elements, and so they often control non-employees’ work lives down to the granular level. And they have new and developing technologies that allow the larger brands to monitor every moment in the lives of their products and the workers.

So … are those workers employees, or not? Often, the larger brands rely on a strategy that says “not.”

Weil and we may sympathize with the challenge faced by those companies. A branded cellphone must work exactly the same, wherever it was manufactured. A person checking into a chain hotel expects a nearly identical level of customer experience, whether they are in Dubuque or Dallas. But some companies may be crossing the misclassification line.

The challenge may be just as great for companies that are not in violation. As they view their industry’s landscape, what if they find they cannot compete without certain questionable strategies?

That, said Weil, is where groups like EMCAP come in. Yes, DOL enforcement must be vigorous, and collaborations with state departments of labor must be robust. But business buy-in and self-regulation are vital.

Wage and Hour Division Administrator Dr. David Weil speaking with American Subcontractors Association of Arizona CEO Carol Floco (at left) and Attorney Julie Pace. (Photo courtesy Wage and Hour Division.)

Wage and Hour Division Administrator Dr. David Weil speaking with American Subcontractors Association of Arizona CEO Carol Floco (at left) and Attorney Julie Pace. (Photo courtesy Wage and Hour Division.)

Via EMCAP and similar approaches nationwide, employers may gather and use dialogue and other methods to curtail bad practices.

“When you hear from a peer, a fellow employer,” said Weil, “that is incredibly powerful.”

He cites the Florida citrus industry as an example of successful self-policing. He said that when the DOL shared data about which subcontractors were regularly violative in misclassification and in regard to worker rights, larger producers asked for a copy of their maps. Pointing to the red dots indicating poor performers, some industry leaders said, “We don’t want to do business with the red bubbles.”

And that altered toolbox of strategies is just fine with the Wage & Hour Director.

“We’re not into a game of gotcha,” said Weil, “but compliance.”

Though enforcement is still a tool, he said, the primary focus must be “thinking creatively about changing business decisions.”

My unedited follow-up interview with Dr. David Weil is here:

 

And more background on EMCAP is here. We may follow up with Matt Meaker and his partner Helen Holden on the committee’s progress.

judge roxanne song ong headshot

Judge Roxanne Song Ong (ret.)

This Thursday, the annual event called Spring Training for Lawyers will be held. (I mentioned it yesterday, here.)

There is quite a bit of content worth seeing at the event this Thursday and Friday. Topics include (in no particular order) stereotyping, the Hobby Lobby decision, representing clients with disabilities, mindfulness in practice, and immigration law.

Every one of those (plus others) look like great panels helmed by talented lawyers.

But the opening panel on Thursday is the one I really am disappointed to miss. The title is “Perspectives on Diversity in the Legal Profession in Arizona, and it runs from 1:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.

The speakers have walked the walk:

  • George Chen, partner at Bryan Cave
  • Booker Evans, shareholder at Gallagher & Kennedy
  • Sonia Martinez, solo practitioner and past President of NABA
  • Ed Maldonado, solo practitioner and past President of Los Abogados
  • Hon. Roxanne Song Ong, retired Presiding Judge of the Phoenix Municipal Court

Topics will include:

  • Challenges facing minority attorneys in the workplace
  • Issues of majority attorneys working with minority lawyers
  • Importance of developing business for minority lawyers

As organizers say, “A full hour is also dedicated for the panelists to interact with the audience, who are encouraged to ask the ‘tough questions’ about minority issues. The panelists will do their best to provide their candid answers.”

More information is here, including the full program, fees (regular, late, and student discount), additional registration and CLE information.

Register here.

Spring Training for Lawyers Minority Bar Convention 2015-page0001

AZ Bar access to justice immigration event 12-22-14

The State Bar of Arizona continues to play a significant role in educating consumers about immigration law. It couldn’t come at a better time.

Previously, I mentioned a few events the Bar scheduled in December to help the public understand the ins and outs of the recent presidential Executive Order on immigration. Today, I offer a follow-up to the event held on December 22. Just three days before Christmas, more than a dozen lawyers offered their time and expertise to a packed-to-the-rafters crowd. It was scheduled in a way to accommodate consumers who have jobs and other daytime obligations, so it’s even more impressive that the attorneys attended until 10:00 p.m. Well done and congratulations.

The forum’s format opened with a 45-minute presentation on the topic by attorney Ezequiel Hernandez, followed by the opportunity to speak with individual lawyers.

Univision_Arizona logoKeep in mind that the December 22 event followed on the heels of a phone bank organized by the Bar the day after the President’s Executive Order (a phone bank held on a Friday night and that included some dedicated volunteer attorneys).

I can’t help but feel that the Bar is probably a long way ahead of other organizations in regard to educating folks on this breaking topic.

Here’s the update:

Thirteen volunteer attorneys came together on Monday, December 22, to offer free legal advice at an informational session and legal assistance clinic hosted by the State Bar of Arizona and its partner Univision Arizona at St. Agnes Church in Phoenix. This access to justice program, held from 5:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m., was organized to inform consumers, dispel myths, and combat consumer fraud related to immigration law and deferred action.

Approximately 550 consumers attended the access to justice event, and 286 families participated in one-on-one consultations with volunteer attorneys.

The 13 volunteer attorneys were:

  • Marysol Angulo, Hernandez Global
  • Emilia Banuelos, Banuelos Law Office
  • Seth Draper, Salvatierra Law Group
  • State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorJudy Flanagan, Judy C. Flanagan, PC
  • Lisette Flores, Friendly House
  • Jaime Garcia, Garcia Law Group
  • Marni Guerrero, Guerrero Jefferies Law Group
  • Ezequiel Hernandez, Hernandez Global
  • Claudia Lopez, Law Office of Claudia P. Lopez PLLC
  • Jose L. Penalosa, Penalosa & Associates
  • Cynthia J. Perez,  Hammond Law Group
  • Juan Rocha, Rocha Law Office
  • Ray Ybarra Maldonado, Law Office of Ray A. Ybarra Maldonado

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_Color

[Note: This article was edited to clarify the role that Ezequiel Hernandez played in regard to the White House. According to Hernandez, he was one of four legal experts from Univision whom the White House spoke with to ensure accurate information was communicated and to communicate the message against fraud; the description of him as “a White House consultant” was inaccurate. I apologize for the error.]

You may recall that one day after the President’s Executive Order on immigration—one day—the State Bar offered an event that included lawyers giving advice on that very topic.

Now, in the week before Christmas, when most of us are devising ways to enjoy the holiday and think less about work, my colleague Alberto Rodriguez passes on news of two more immigration-related events put on by the Bar and partner Univision. One is tonight, and the second is next Monday. No rest for the weary!

(At one of the events, Univision correspondent and attorney Ezequiel Hernandez of Hernandez Global Law Firm will speak. Read more about him here.)

I’ll get to the events in a second, but I’ve got to say: They represent many, many hours of work—to locate attorneys, line up venues, and nail down all of those tiny details that can make or break public gatherings. Congratulations to Alberto and everyone who has had a hand in this.

Ezequiel Hernandez

Ezequiel Hernandez

“The State Bar of Arizona is partnering with Univision Arizona to host two access to justice programs focused on immigration/deferred action. In an effort to inform consumers, dispel myths, and combat consumer fraud, both organizations have come together to offer a 2-hour Abogados a Su Lado phone bank on December 18 and a special immigration session and legal-aid clinic on December 22.”

“On Thursday, December 18, eight volunteer attorneys will answer viewers’ questions during the 2-hour Abogados a Su Lado phone bank from 5 to 7 p.m. on Univision 33.”

“On Monday, December 22, the Bar will host a 30-minute information session that will include an overview of the Bar’s consumer protection services and endorsements (for the Bar) by two nationally recognized immigrant rights organizations. In addition, Ezequiel Hernandez, a Contributor and legal expert for Univision News National Network, will offer a brief presentation on deferred action.”

“Following the presentation, twelve volunteer attorneys will offer one-on-one consultations. The information session and legal-aid clinic will be held from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at Saint Agnes Catholic Church located at 1954 North 24th Street in Phoenix.”

“Univision Arizona will record the information session and legal-aid clinic, which will then be broadcast as a 30-minute immigration special, replacing their evening news—date to be determined.”

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