Case For Here is a new project whose mission is to provide free expert witness services to immigrants at risk of deportation and provide the courts with testimony regarding the potential impact of deportation on clients and their families’ physical and mental well-being. Immigrants and their families are often at risk of being disrupted or deported to other countries when they are arrested for even the most minimal of crimes.
Mike Langlois, LICSW, the founder of Case for Here, says, “When our current POTUS was elected, I decided to use the time between the election and inauguration to discern how best to resist the rising tide of xenophobia I was seeing. Case For Here was what I came up with after I spoke with one of my friends who was part of the Boston appeal to the Muslim Ban. I had done expert witness work for her in this area before, and realized that there was a great need for it.”
Clinical social workers and mental health professionals can often make a big difference in these cases by conducting a family interview, preparing a brief report, and testifying to the court about the individual’s parental strengths, as well as the traumatic injury such deportations might have on children, and the loss to the community.
Such evaluation is often cost-prohibitive for defendants, which is where Case For Here comes in. Clinicians volunteer to donate pro bono time, and Case for Here links them with attorneys seeking such expert witnesses.
Becoming an expert witness can be daunting, so Case for Here provides workshops and collaborative consultation on how to prepare. The first webinar will be offered soon.
So far, Case for Here has 22 volunteers, in AZ, IL, MA, MD, MO, NY, and OK. “We hope to have people in all states. We have social workers, licensed counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists,” Langlois says, adding, “Licensed clinicians are usually requested for the witness reports, but we have master’s level clinicians for assisting and case management requests.” Langlois further states, “I think this is an excellent way to fight the sense of powerlessness many social workers are experiencing. ...I am getting overwhelmed by requests. There is much work to do.” Langlois lists examples: a man facing the loss of his wife of 20+ years, an HIV-positive gay man whose partner abused him and then reported him to ICE when he tried to leave, and others. “The thread that binds them together is that clinicians can make a difference. You can make a difference.”
If you are licensed in your state and looking for a rewarding way to use your clinical skills to make a difference in immigrant rights and support, Case for Here wants to hear from you. If you are a clinician and want to volunteer, go to http://bit.ly/2nXB40m to be taken to a questionnaire that will guide you through giving Case for Here the contact information they need to know. If you are not a clinician but want to volunteer, you can apply, as well.
For answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Case for Here, see: http://www.mikelanglois.com/case-for-here/the-case-for-here-project-faqs/
For further information, contact Mike Langlois, LICSW, Case For Here Project, Teaching Associate in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, 617-776-3409, firstname.lastname@example.org.