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Forensic Psychological Evaluations for Asylum and Immigration Proceedings Considerations and Challenges in Assessing the Psychological-Legal-Cultural Nexus.

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Presentation on theme: "Forensic Psychological Evaluations for Asylum and Immigration Proceedings Considerations and Challenges in Assessing the Psychological-Legal-Cultural Nexus."— Presentation transcript:

1 Forensic Psychological Evaluations for Asylum and Immigration Proceedings Considerations and Challenges in Assessing the Psychological-Legal-Cultural Nexus Tim F. Branaman, Ph.D., ABPP Dallas Forensic Group, November 10, 2010

2 Nature of Case Referrals – Asylum – Immigration violations

3 Asylum Persecution Torture

4 Cancellation of Removal Basic requirements, which may include, among other criteria, – Extreme hardship, or in some cases – Exceptional and extremely unusual hardship Fulfilling conditions of VAWA, plus extreme hardship

5 Exemption from Language Requirement Condition that impairs speaking, reading, writing English Assessment of developmental history, general functioning, and current level of cognitive functioning, and academic achievement

6 Psychological-Legal Nexus Asylum cases – Extent to which psychological evidence is consistent with Reasonable fear associated with persecution Symptoms of acute stress or trauma disorder consistent with reasonable fear of death, or Symptoms of PTSD or neuropsychological symptoms consistent with psychological and physical torture

7 20057 Evaluation Challenges Language Translation Cultural effects

8 20058 Evaluation Challenges Cont ’ Trauma effects Objective assessment Length of time since entering United States Memory discrepancies

9 20059 The Evaluation Review of asylee’s affidavit Interview of asylee – Prior functioning – Traumatic events – Current functioning Assessment of symptoms Collateral data

10 Assessing “ Reliability ” “Reliability” = Validity Clinical assessment of validity of self-report – Consistency over time – Minimization rather than exaggeration – Reported symptoms vs. Observed behavior – Extreme symptomology

11 11 Assessing “ Reliability ” Rare combinations Unusual hallucinations Unusual symptom course Negative image Suggestibility

12 12 Report Preparation Format Your identity as an expert Nature of the referral and the referral question The evaluation – what you did Your findings Your opinions - conclusions

13 Psychological-Legal Nexus Application for Cancellation of removal – What, if any, psychological-social-behavioral condition is present that may rise to the level of “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship?” – What is the nature and extent of the hardship that may be imposed?

14 “Exceptional & Extremely Unusual Hardship” spouse, parent, or child would suffer hardship that is substantially beyond that which would ordinarily be expected to result from the alien’s deportation, but does not need to show that such hardship would be “unconscionable.”

15 Psychological-Legal Nexus Application for Cancellation of removal – Medical hardships to spouse or child – Psychological hardships to spouse or child Records of prior psychological treatment may be important – Coping deficits, impaired ability to function independently (i.e., remaining spouse), conditions that may be aggravated, serious financial hardships

16 Application for Cancellation of removal Even with documentation, great suffering generally gets little consideration or weighting in determination of disposition of an application (Hake, 2004) A combination of elements is necessary to for an application to be successful and psychological or medical hardship is only a portion of it

17 Assessment Challenges and Limitations Assessment instruments Language differences use of interpreters and availability of interpreters Limited collateral data

18 Reports and Testimony Consistent with other forensic report preparation Less formal than federal or state courts What is required varies from one region to another

19 19 Testimony Immigration court What to expect Preparation Amount of time

20 20 Ethical Considerations Multicultural issues Informed consent Limitation of reliability of opinions Recognition of potential personal bias


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