Immigration


State Bar of Arizona logoIn case you were not yet recovered from a terrific Independence Day, I share some remarkable news from my State Bar colleague Alberto Rodriguez about an event that aimed to educate and assist the immigrant community. Thank you to all the Arizona attorneys and others who participated:

The State Bar of Arizona and Univision Arizona hosted a special edition of Abogados a Su Lado (attorneys on your side) public service program on Thursday, June 23, along with a community forum and legal help clinic on Tuesday, June 28. Both access to justice programs were held to help the immigrant community understand the impact of the Supreme Court of the United States’ divided decision regarding President Obama’s immigration executive actions.

State Bar of Arizona Abogados a Su Lado Phone Bank and Community Forum, June 2016

State Bar of Arizona Abogados a Su Lado Phone Bank and Community Forum, June 2016

The Bar’s primary role as a partner and organizer of the events was to help the immigrant community understand its role as a consumer protection organization, as well as to connect them with licensed attorneys for sound legal advice regarding the SCOTUS decision. The immigrant community is often victimized by notarios and document preparers during high-profile activity associated with immigration law.

The following are recaps of both programs.

Phone Bank Details

What: Abogados a Su Lado Phone Bank

Date:  Thursday, June 23, 2016

Time: 5 to 7 p.m.

Topic: Immigration Issues – DAPA/DACA

The volunteers were five attorneys:

  • Marisol Angulo, Hernandez Global
  • Ezequiel Hernandez, Hernandez Global
  • Claudia Lopez, Law Office of Claude P. Lopez
  • Karina Ordoñez, Karina Ordoñez Law Office
  • Jose Peñalosa, Jose Peñalosa Attorney at Law

The volunteer attorneys answered 63 calls regarding the SCOTUS decision and immigration law. This special-edition phone bank was two hours.

Forum and Legal Help Clinic Details

What: Community Forum and Legal Help Clinic

Date: Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Time: 6 to 9 p.m.

Topic: Immigration Issues – DACA/DAPA

The volunteers were 10 attorneys:

  • Marisol Angulo, Hernandez Global
  • Emilia Bañuelos, Bañuelos Law Office
  • Josh De La Ossa, De La Ossa and Ramos Law
  • Seth Draper, Salvatierra Law
  • Ezequiel Hernandez, Hernandez Global
  • Claudia Lopez, Law Office of Claude P. Lopez
  • Jose Peñalosa, Jose Peñalosa Attorney at Law
  • Edwin Ramos, De La Ossa and Ramos Law
  • Fae Sowders, Sowders Law
  • Ray Ybarra Maldonado, Law Office of Ray A. Ybarra Maldonado

An estimated 350 consumers attended the three-hour access to justice event and 120 families received one-on-one consultations by volunteer attorneys.

The forum included an overview of the State Bar’s consumer protection services by Alberto Rodriguez; endorsements for the Bar by the Consulate General of Mexico in Phoenix, Mi Familia Vota, and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services; and a presentation covering the SCOTUS decision by attorney Ezequiel Hernandez. The entire access to justice program was offered in Spanish.

All attorney volunteers were extremely satisfied with their participation in these access to justice events. We thank them for committing their time and expertise, which helped the Bar continue connecting consumers with legal professionals.

We thank Univision Arizona for their continued partnership in providing this valuable access to justice program for the Spanish-speaking community, as well as volunteers from Mi Familia Vota who helped with event logistics.

2016 law day by State Bar of Arizona

Today, an update about a great Law Day event by my colleague Alberto Rodriguez: (What he does not mention in his recap is the huge amount of important and complicated work he himself put in to have the multi-site event come off flawlessly. Thank you and congratulations, Alberto!)

On Saturday, April 30, the State Bar of Arizona held the 2016 Law Day Legal Aid Clinics where 24 of its members offered free one-on-one legal consultations from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at two Valley locations.

The clinics offered free legal consultations by members who practice Family Law, Bankruptcy/Foreclosure, Probate/Trust Law, and Immigration Law at State Bar of Arizona offices in central Phoenix, and Glendale Community College in the west valley. Once again, the Bar partnered with ABC15 and Univision Arizona to promote the day-long clinics, which were overwhelmingly successful.

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorVolunteer attorneys provided 325 consultations during law clinic to the 306 consumers who were seen—a dramatic increase from last year’s 216 consultations. Several attorneys offered free follow-up services after the clinic to consumers who needed additional help.

The State Bar of Arizona expresses its sincerest appreciation to its attorney and logistics volunteers, along with its media and community partners. Thank you!

A complete list of volunteers, along with photos and media coverage, can be viewed here.

This week's journalism conference in Phoenix covers many topics of public interest. spj valley of the sun header cropped

This week’s journalism conference in Phoenix covers many topics of public interest.

I am pleased to share news of two conferences in Phoenix this week (April 28-30) that may serve your needs—in multiple ways. Aimed primarily at journalists, they will be of interest to anyone attuned to public policy, communications, criminal justice, and immigration.

I am helping to organize one of the journo conferences, with the Society of Professional Journalists, and I urge you to consider attending both of them. Links and agendas to each are below:

The Society of Professional Journalists Western Regional conference is on Friday and Saturday, April 29 (evening reception) and 30 (all day):

  • The Friday evening reception will be at Macayo’s. The conference will be at the Heard Museum. And the post-conference mixer on Saturday evening will be at the Clarendon Hotel’s Sky Deck.
  • The keynote of Saturday’s offerings will be a one-on-one interview of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio with Arizona Republic columnist E.J. Montini (for reals).
  • The full conference schedule is here.

Unity Journalists for Diversity logoAnd the UNITY: Journalists for Diversity conference is on Friday, April 29 (all day) at the ASU Cronkite School in downtown Phoenix:

  • The full conference schedule is here.
  • A day before the summit, Thursday, April 28, UNITY in partnership with ONE Arizona will hold a free special town hall meeting and panel discussion on immigration. The town hall will take place at Puente Human Rights Movement from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Register here.
  • UNITY also will be hosting a free rooftop networking reception at Hotel San Carlos on Friday, April 29, immediately following the Regional Summit from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Heavy hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be served. Register here.

I’m helping organize the SPJ event, and I’ll be attending the UNITY conference Friday too. For a pretty modest outlay of dollars, this looks like some great content. I hope you can attend some or all of this!

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.

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