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The Critical Role of the Expert Witness in Immigration Hearings

Date: Nov 9, 2017 6:00 pm


By Safe Passage Project and The William Alanson White Center for Public Mental Health



The Critical Role of the Expert Witness in Immigration Hearings

Register Here

Immigrants arrive in the U.S. from diverse corners of the earth, bringing equally diverse experiences, hopes, and dreams.  But all, or nearly all, undocumented immigrants share in emotional turmoil derived from the threat and fear of deportation.  The impact of deportation on individuals and their families is well documented by those who work closely with targeted immigrants.  Uncertainty and anxiety mark the lives of children and other family members. But how much do courts take into account the cultural and familial contexts that give shape to the lives of undocumented immigrants targeted for deportation? What do they know of the conditions of the defendants’ country of origin? And if they don’t know, how can they be made aware?


This is exactly the role of the mental health and country conditions expert witnesses in immigration hearings. It is important for a third-party expert witness, who is unbiased and with expertise in a particular area, to inform the immigration court about the facts and consequences

of these issues. Lawyers, mental health and country conditions experts who attend this session will learn about the critical role of expert witnesses in various types of relief used in immigration proceedings.


We will address:

  • how and when to use mental health and country conditions experts
  • what types of relief require the use of experts and
  • sample testimony of mental health and country condition experts used in immigration hearings
  • the importance of the rapport and exchange of information between the expert and the immigrant’s legal team




New York Law School

185 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013



November 9th, 2017


6:00 - 6:30 PM - Registration:

6:30 - 6:45 PM - Welcome:

o   Professor Lenni Benson & Lori Bohm, Ph.D.

6:45 - 7:10 PM - What is an expert witness and why are they critical in Immigration hearings?


The presenters will explain the different types of expert witnesses that are relevant in immigration hearings.  They will also demonstrate how to qualify an expert, the voir dire process at the hearing.

o   Mr. Michael P. DiRaimondo

o   Jeffrey S. Chase, Former Immigration Judge and Member of the Staff of the Board of Immigration Appeals

7:10 - 7:35 PM - What is the role of the mental health expert witness?

What are the critical elements of an expert witness report?

o   Maria Nardone, Ph.D.

o   Cleonie White, Ph.D.

7:35 - 8:20 PM - What are the different kinds of relief available to Immigrants?

How do expert witnesses contribute in each type?

Legal Experts:  Mr. DiRaimondo and Judge Chase

Mental Health Experts:  Maria Nardone, Ph.D., Cleonie White, Ph.D.


o   Asylum, Withholding of Removal, and Convention Against Torture

o   Hardship (e.g. I-601, I-601A, Cancellation of Removal)

o   Rehabilitation (212c, 212h, 212i)

o   U Visa

8:20 - 8:30 PM - Q/A and Closing remarks:  Panelists

8:30 PM - Reception with networking


Register Here



Upon completion of this conference, participants will able to:

  1. Understand how Mental Health, and country conditions experts can write reports that educate courts and support the cases of individuals applying for asylum or who are at risk for deportation.
  2. Identify and describe ways in which psychological evaluations expand recognition of the traumatic impact of deportation on at-risk immigrants and their U.S. citizen children.
  3. Participants will be able to list critical, factual details that must be included in psychological evaluations for presentation to judges and lawyers in immigration courts.