Immigration and Refugee Issues

  • Lenore E. WalkerEmail author
  • David Shapiro
  • Stephanie Akl


There is much more focus on immigration today than previously with mental health professionals playing more of a role in assisting people who are in danger of removal or deportation. In this chapter we go over the most recent immigration laws promulgated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to familiarize psychologists and others about how the system functions, in general. It is only recently that detainees who are about to be deported and whose competency and mental health treatment needs are relevant to the proceedings are permitted to have psychological testimony before the USCIS courts. This is also possible in asylum and hardship cases as well as Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) cases. We discuss the difference between refugees who are forced to flee their homes in other countries and come to the U.S. seeking safety and those who immigrate hoping for a better life. Given difficult conditions in countries bordering the U.S. there have been more refugees who wish to enter the country that can legally and therefore many overstay their visas or simply enter illegally. This has put a burden on the U.S. system with many people illegally working and living here. Children born in another country but unknowingly brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents are in limbo and awaiting federal decisions like DACA and the DREAM act to stay here. Psychologists have become involved in many aspects of this legal quagmire including helping those who have developed anxiety and other mental disorders due to fear of removal, deportation, and family separations. Refugees who have been housed in difficult conditions, often separating families, while waiting at the border to have their cases heard are also being attended to by some mental health professionals. We try to describe a fluid and changing situation in this chapter.


Removal Deportation Asylum. VAWA Refugee Hardship Visa ICE Discretionary relief 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lenore E. Walker
    • 1
    Email author
  • David Shapiro
    • 2
  • Stephanie Akl
    • 3
  1. 1.Nova Southeastern UniversityFort LauderdaleUSA
  2. 2.Nova Southeastern UniversityFort LauderdaleUSA
  3. 3.Nova Southeastern UniversityFort LauderdaleUSA

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