Monthly Archives: January 2024

Episode 1: Immigration and Trauma

Legal Thoughts –  Episode 1 of Immigration and Trauma


Published January 15, 2024

Topic: “This is a Series of Conversations with a Guest Podcaster from the Mental Health

Welcome to Legal Thoughts


Attorney Introduction:

My name is Coleman Jackson and I am an attorney at Coleman Jackson, P.C., a taxation, litigation and immigration law firm based in Dallas, Texas. In addition to myself, we have a Legal Assistant, Leiliane Godeiro, Law Clerks, Ayesha Jain and Mlaah Singh, and Admin Assistant, Michelle Gutierrez. On today’s “Legal Thoughts” podcast, our Law Clerk, Mlaah Singh, will be interviewing me and my guest, Ana Marcela Rodríguez, a mental health professional with Therapy Works Counseling as we talk about law, mental health and psychology where it impacts those seeking legal services. This is intended to be a series of podcasts:

The First Podcast in this series is “Immigration and Trauma” The Second Podcast in this series is “Violence Against Women (Domestic Violence and Immigration}” The Third Podcast in this series is “Limited English Proficiencies and Microaggressions in American Culture”

Interviewer Introduction:

Hi everyone, my name is Mlaah Singh and I am a Law Clerk at the tax, contracts, litigation and immigration law firm of Coleman Jackson, Professional Corporation. Our law firm is located at 6060 North Central Expressway, Suite 620, right here in Dallas, Texas.

The importance of this podcast stems from the idea of awareness and understanding. The process of immigration is not fast and not easy therefore it is important to acknowledge the mental, financial, and emotional tolls this process takes. Today we will be hearing from Coleman Jackson, an immigration attorney, and Ana Marcela Rodriguez, a therapist who specializes in the psychological effects of immigration. Hearing both perspectives will help listeners receive a holistic view of immigration processes. Hopefully, this podcast can even resonate with listeners from various origins.

Before I get started with our questions on this important topic: “Immigration and Trauma”. I want to welcome our guest podcaster, where, at this time I am going to ask her to introduce herself and tell our Legal Thoughts Podcasts audience about herself and her work in the mental health field.

Guest Podcaster Introduction:

Good afternoon everyone; my name is Ana Marcela Rodríguez. I am a licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of Therapy works counseling- we specialized in bilingual counseling services and psychological evaluations for immigration. I’m excited to get started with our first podcast in this series on mental health and the law.

Interviewer: Mlaah Singh, Law Clerk

Thank you very much Mrs. Marcela. I am going to start by asking Attorney Jackson a series of questions from the practicing attorney’s perspective; and then, I will turn and ask Mrs. Marcela a series of questions from the mental health professional’s perspective.

Question Number One for Attorney, Jackson: So, Attorney Jackson, my first question is how does immigration laws impact the mental health of individuals navigating the immigration process in the United States, and what legal challenges do immigrants navigating through the immigration process often face?

Attorney Answer: Coleman Jackson

Without overcomplication, simplification and generalization of the impacts of the immigration process on an immigrant’s mental health; let me try to put into context immigration law in America. Immigration laws in America are complex, extremely intrusive, quite insensitive, and the immigration process can be extremely slow and very expensive.

The practice of immigration law requires unrelenting advocacy and an unyielding passion for justice; and legal advocates at the same time must possess and show immigrants and their families lots and lots of compassion and empathy.

The practice environment that I have just described impacts the delivery of legal services because lawyers and their team advising and helping immigrants navigate their way through the American immigration law maze must be strong advocates and relentless encouragers. I will just end with these points: American immigration laws are full of humanitarian provisions benefiting immigrants who are abused, fleeing persecution, running from disasters of all kinds, and those searching for a new start or new investment opportunities. These humanitarian and business opportunities also impact immigrants’ mental health giving them hope where there seem to be no hope.

Interviewer: Mlaah Singh, Law Clerk

I appreciate your sensitivity in answering this question. It is important to acknowledge that no two cases are the same and it is refreshing to hear a lawyer express the same thought. Each immigrant has their own individual shot at obtaining citizenship.

Question Number Two for Attorney, Jackson:

My second question for you today, Attorney, is through the broad lens of your professional legal career, can you highlight any examples where you witnessed the effects of trauma and mental health strain on clients? How could legal professionals best address client mental strain?

Attorney Answer: Coleman Jackson

Well without revealing any details about any particular client or clients, during the course of practicing immigration law, I have seen immigrants deal with a lot of uncertainty with dignity and grace. I have at those times of stress and strain, let them know that my law firm team and I care about them and that we are there to navigate them through the immigration process. The stress and strain may present itself in various ways; such as, immigrant clients doubting their worth, questioning whether they are accepted or understood in America because immigrants are often forced to communicate extremely sensitive and complex information in English (a language that is not their native tongue). Some clients show wear and tear due to the extremely intrusive, long and incredibly expensive process. Other clients of our law firm have displayed wiriness, dread and even fear when faced with gathering certain types of documentation, such as, police clearance reports; or when revealing certain sensitive information required to support their immigration petitions and applications.

Anxiety arises due to long periods of waiting without any meaningful feedback as examiners process immigrant’s petitions and applications. In recent years, processing times can go on for 36 to 72 months often without any updates or comments from government adjudicators. In recent years those seeking asylum must wait over six years for a hearing and often many are referred to Immigration Court for final determinations by the affirmative Asylum Officers after waiting over six years for their hearing. The wait for an Immigration Court date could be another 3 to 5 years.

On many occasions our compassionate and caring team has had to really encourage immigrants to take the next step, just stay the course and continue to provide information and documents that in some cases are difficult to obtain in some countries and very sensitive in other cultures. Don’t give up and continue to be patient. That is often a comment that I make to our immigrant clients and their families. Thank you for your patience; that is what I often tell them attempting to encourage them to continue the process and continue to be positive and hopeful.

The best way for legal professionals, in my opinion, to address immigration clients’ mental stress and strain is to demonstrate competence in the law, commitment to the client and genuine concern for the outcome. The goal is to help the immigrant to obtain the immigration benefit in which they seek. Competent lawyers must be fierce advocates for their clients, good listeners and loyal encouragers. They must hire team members with similar qualities.

Interviewer: Mlaah Singh, Law Clerk

It is certainly a hefty expenditure to begin therefore this country is thankful for lawyers like yourself who are able to fight for justice where justice is deserved. Most of these individuals just need one person to take a chance on them for their entire life to change.

From a legal perspective, Attorney, how does the United States immigration system address mental health needs or mental trauma of immigrants and their families seeking refuge in America or pursuing a new life in the United States?

Attorney Answer: Coleman Jackson

The immigration laws of the United States does not directly deal with mental health needs of immigrants specifically, but there are numerous provisions in the law that can provide relief and a way out for immigrants finding themselves in America and dealing with various types of stressful, cruel, inhumane, domestic violence or other challenging situations causing them mental distress and pain; for example:

Various types of humanitarian waivers for medical problems and health issues; Violence Against Women’s Act that permits immigrants abused by U.S. citizen children, parents or spouses to self-petition and obtain a Green Card; U Crime Victims Status which is possibly available for immigrants who are victims of certain crimes in America perpetrated by anyone; not just relatives but even stranger on stranger violence; and; T trafficking victims visas which are sometimes available for victims of human trafficking.

Interviewer: Mlaah Singh, Law Clerk

Thank you for your valuable answers, Mr. Jackson. Hopefully our listeners can benefit from learning about immigration from a legal perspective and even find answers in the context of their own USCIS pursuits.

Now, Mrs. Rodriguez, I’d like to ask you, How does the immigration experience impact the mental health of individuals, and what are some common mental health issues that arise in this context?

Guest Podcaster: Ana Marcela Rodriguez, Mental Health Professional

The immigration experience can have a profound impact on the mental health of individuals. The stress and uncertainty associated with leaving one’s home country and adjusting to a new culture, language, and way of life can lead to a range of mental health issues. Some of the common mental health challenges experienced by immigrants include:

1. Anxiety and Depression: The stress of immigration, including language barriers, challenges in finding employment, and navigating unfamiliar systems, can contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression. The loss of familiar support systems and social connections can also exacerbate these issues.

2. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Immigrants may have experienced traumatic events in their home country or during the immigration process, such as war, violence, or persecution. These experiences can lead to PTSD, which can cause significant distress and impairment in daily functioning.

3. Acculturation Stress: The process of adapting to a new culture and society can be overwhelming and may lead to acculturation stress. Immigrants may struggle to balance their cultural heritage with the pressures to assimilate into their new environment, leading to feelings of confusion, isolation, and identity conflict.

4. Social Isolation and Loneliness: Immigrants may face challenges in building social connections and support networks in their new country, which can contribute to feelings of loneliness and isolation. Lack of social support can exacerbate other mental health issues and lead to a sense of alienation and disconnection.

5. Discrimination and Racism: Immigrants may face discrimination and racism in their new country, which can have a significant impact on their mental health. Experiences of prejudice and bias can lead to feelings of anger, frustration, and a diminished sense of belonging.

6. Family Stress: The immigration process can strain family dynamics, leading to conflicts and tensions within the family unit. Separation from loved ones, financial pressures, and adjustments to new family roles and responsibilities can all contribute to family stress and impact the mental well-being of immigrants.

Interviewer: Mlaah Singh, Law Clerk

It seems as though mental stress can derive from many specific instances and even take the form of several disorders. So with such variation and such room for mental health strains to arise, how can mental health therapists and counselors help law firm clients dealing with immigration-related trauma, and what unique considerations come into play when working with this population?

Guest Podcaster: Ana Marcela Rodriguez,

Mental Health Professional Mental health professionals can help the unique challenges faced by individuals navigating the immigration system and coping with the impact of trauma . We need to be specialized and culturally competent to appropriately support immigrant clients. Here are some ways mental health professionals can assist law firm clients dealing with immigration-related trauma:

1. Providing Trauma-Informed Care:

2. Culturally Competent Counseling:

3. Building Trust and Safety:

4. Addressing Legal and Emotional Needs: providing support in managing stress, anxiety, and depression related to immigration processes while also addressing the emotional impact of legal proceedings and bureaucratic challenges.

5.- Providing Coping Strategies: Therapists can teach clients coping strategies and resilience-building skills to help them manage the stress and emotional impact of the immigration process. This may include techniques for managing anxiety, practicing self-care, and building a support network.

6. Collaboration with Legal Professionals: Collaborating with lawyers and legal professionals involved in the immigration case can ensure an integrated approach to addressing clients’ comprehensive needs, combining legal expertise with mental health support.

7. Referrals to Support Services: Mental health professionals can connect clients with community resources.

Interviewer: Mlaah Singh, Law Clerk

That is a very insightful answer. It is very possible that most of the time, such individuals may just need to be pointed in the right direction to take care of themselves throughout various avenues in the pursuit of citizenship. It also may be important for these issues to be brought up within these legal proceedings if an individual is unaware of what they are struggling with.

Mrs. Marcela, from your experience in mental health canceling in immigration matters, what are some cultural and systemic factors that contribute to the mental health challenges faced by immigrants; and how can these concerns be addressed by immigrants themselves, and by the attorneys representing immigrants, counseling immigrants and advocating on behalf of immigrants and their families in the American legal system?

Guest Podcaster: Ana Marcela Rodriguez, Mental Health Professional

Immigrants face numerous mental health challenges as a result of cultural and systemic factors. The acculturation process, difficulty in obtaining healthcare resources, language barriers, discrimination, and the stress of adapting to new socio-economic realities all contribute to the mental health burden experienced by immigrants.

Culturally, immigrants may struggle with the clash of traditional values and beliefs with those of their new environment. This can lead to feelings of isolation and a lack of sense of belonging, leading to depression and anxiety. Systemically, immigrants often face limited access to mental health services due to financial constraints, lack of insurance, or healthcare disparities. Furthermore, discrimination and xenophobia can result in additional stress and trauma for immigrants, exacerbating their mental health struggles.

As counselors, it is crucial to advocate for immigrants by promoting culturally sensitive and accessible mental health services. Building awareness and advocating for policy changes to address healthcare disparities is essential in ensuring immigrants have adequate support for their mental health needs. Additionally, providing culturally competent therapy and support groups can help immigrants navigate the challenges they face while adapting to a new culture. By advocating for immigrants, counselors can help move towards a more inclusive and equitable mental health system.

Interviewer: Mlaah Singh, Law Clerk

I can certainly see where gaps in justice can arise on matters of immigration. From the root of the problem and outwards, there are also many stereotypes and biases that interfere with proper justice, especially with the application of immigration legislation. It is crucial that lawyers, and especially courts, are able to see that the American Dream promises the allowance for a pursuit of happiness for all, especially those who may need it most. I would also like to note, for immigrant or potential immigrant listeners, please know that home is wherever the heart is and it is up to you and your own dreams to decide where to settle and make a life for yourself.

My next question, Mrs. Rodriguez, is how can mental health therapists and counselors potentially collaborate with legal professionals to provide holistic support to clients dealing with immigration issues, migration concerns, cultural issues and related trauma?

Guest Podcaster: Ana Marcela Rodriguez, Mental Health Professional

In a variety of ways. Firstly, mental health professionals can provide psychological evaluations and therapy to individuals dealing with the stress and trauma of the immigration process. They can also assist in addressing cultural adjustment and identity issues that arise from migration. Additionally, mental health professionals can offer group therapy and support for individuals who have experienced trauma related to immigration and displacement.

On the other hand, legal professionals can help clients navigate the complex legal processes surrounding immigration and migration. They can provide legal representation and advice for clients seeking asylum, residency, or citizenship. Legal professionals can also advocate for the rights of immigrants and assist with issues such as family reunification and employment authorization.

By collaborating, mental health professionals and legal professionals can ensure that clients receive comprehensive support that addresses both their mental health and legal needs. This approach can help individuals better cope with the challenges of immigration and migration and promote their overall well-being and successful integration into their new communities. Interviewer:

Mlaah Singh, Law Clerk

I certainly agree. Thank you Mrs. Rodriguez. On behalf of our Legal Thoughts Podcast audience, I thank our Attorney and our Guest Podcaster, Ana Marcela Rodríguez, a mental health professional with Therapy Works Counseling for sitting with me and answering my questions on immigration and trauma today. We intend to continue this series of podcast in the near future with Episode Two: Violence Against Women Act Petitions and Episode Three: Limited English Proficiencies in American Culture.

Our listeners who want to hear more podcasts like this one please subscribe to our Legal Thoughts Podcast on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcast. You can also read our law firm’s blogs on our website in English, Spanish and Portuguese by going to our law firm’s website, which is, and selecting your preferred language. Everybody take care! And come back in about two weeks, for more taxation, business structuring, contracts litigation and immigration Legal Thoughts from Coleman Jackson, P.C., located right here in Dallas, Texas at 6060 North Central Expressway, Suite 620, Dallas, Texas 75206.

English callers: 214-599-0431 | Spanish callers: 214-599-0432 |Portuguese callers: 214-272-3100

Attorney: Coleman Jackson

Thank you very much Ana for joining me today on our Legal Thoughts Podcast in Episode One, Immigration and Trauma. I also want to thank our Legal Thoughts Podcast audience for giving us their ear today.

Our listeners should stay tuned for future podcasts in this series where Ana and I answer questions about the Violence Against Women Act protections for immigrants experiencing inhumane and unjust treatment at the hands of a United States citizen parent, child or spouse; and Episode 3 where we answer questions on the topic: Limited English Proficiencies and microaggressions in American Culture. As usual, we invite our audience to suggest topics and questions on matters they desire to know answers for involving international, federal, and state and local tax matters; contracts, litigation; and business, family and humanitarian immigration. You can read our blogs or contact us on our law firm’s website which is Navigate to English, Spanish or Portuguese by using the language selection bottom on our law firm’s website.

If you want to see or hear more taxation, business structuring and contracts litigation and immigration LEGAL THOUGHTS from Coleman Jackson, P.C. Subscribe to our Legal Thoughts Podcast on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcast. Stay tuned! We are here in Dallas, Texas and want to inform, educate and encourage our communities on topics dealing with taxation, litigation and immigration. Until next time, take care