Parole: The Death of Due Process

By Tara Dunn

“Going to prison is like dying with your eyes open.”-Bernard Kerik.

These are My Brothers, Uncles and Fathers
My second day on co-op, my supervisor and I visited the Washington, D.C. Central Detention Facility to see clients. Once we made it through security, the air got thicker and began to reek of sweat and rotten meat. As we rounded the corner, there were about 14 men in orange suits sitting along the wall, every single one of them African-American. I lagged behind my supervising attorney, making eye contact with every single man in there. I wasn’t staring at “criminals,” some shadowy villains starring in a scary, fireside tale. I was staring at men who looked like my father, brother, uncle, cousin, and grandfather.

I had a hard time holding myself together that first trip to the jail. I watched client after client, those who had previously experienced all but hell itself, many of whom were fighting addiction, mental health disabilities and poverty, pleading for freedom on a charge from which a state court had already absolved them. Witnessing their plight never got easier, but my clients made it easy to spend every minute of my co-op fighting for their freedom. Every hour I dedicated to preparing for a parole revocation hearing became a religious, cleansing experience. It became an opportunity to force the system to uphold its constitutional obligations.

The System

I spent eleven weeks learning from men and women who bear the burdens of the United States’ darkest human rights violation, the criminal justice system. Daily, attorneys at the Public Defender Services, District of Columbia, fight for their clients, tooth and nail, clutching what little is left of due process. Parole is currently one of the least protected criminal procedures. The court in Morrissey v. Brewer established that revoking parole is “not a part of the criminal prosecution” and thus the usual procedural protections are not extended to what many consider a “privilege”. When working in the parole system, the rule of law is tertiary to the mercy of the whimsical and arbitrary practices of the United States Parole Commission: its methods an accessory to the inexorable death of due process. Clients could spend an exorbitant amount of time incarcerated waiting for a parole revocation hearing, there is often no opportunity for judicial review, the rules of evidence do not apply, there is no right to counsel.

Under the federal parole system, revocation hearings are held for clients that are arrested for violating provisions of their parole. A parolee can be arrested for anything from a serious violation of the law, to merely testing positive in a urine test for alcohol or marijuana. Double jeopardy does not apply. For example, if a client on parole is arrested in Maryland for attempted distribution of cocaine, and the case is dismissed in the District Court of Maryland, the parolee can still be “tried” for that same charge during his parole revocation hearing under a lower standard of proof (preponderance of evidence). Once the parolee is transferred to the federal system jail, he could sit there for months waiting for his hearing, which could result in release or a sentence to additional time in jail. The examiner is a  “neutral” party that simultaneously represents the judge, the jury, and the prosecutor, and ultimately recommends the length of the client’s sentence. The examiner’s recommendation is then sent to the U.S. Parole Commission, where commissioners arbitrarily approve or modify a sentence with little or no justification. The Parole Commission’s decisions are appealable, however the same commissioner who issued the final decision sits on the body reviewing the appeal.

The examiners are not judges, and the majority have never practiced law or attended law school. As such, in such hearings I was challenged to craft a legal argument to present to an individual that lacked formal legal training and often lacked the motivation to consider the relevant law. The client’s fortunes depended entirely on the moods and personal whims of the examiner and it was my job to carefully navigate those rapidly shifting waters. How is one to prepare a client when the rules of evidence do not apply and a client can be penalized for refusing to answer incriminating questions? How to explain to a client that they must wait behind bars for months while waiting for a hearing on a charge that was previously dismissed in court? And then comes the wait to receive notification from the Parole Commission confirming or modifying the examiner’s recommendation, which could take weeks.

As I made my way through this frustrating and disheartening process, I had the opportunity to serve the most phenomenal clients I have ever met, and to work under the supervision of an attorney who inspired me in every way. For this privilege, I feel extremely thankful.

Tara Dunn is a third-year law student at Northeastern University School of Law.

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Alfred Brownell’s Long Road to Northeastern

By Kevin Murray

alfredAlfred Brownell’s wife and children probably never expected to be living in Boston this winter. Nonetheless, in early January Mr. Brownell began work at Northeastern University School of Law (NUSL) as a Visiting Scholar affiliated with the Law School’s, Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy (PHRGE).

A well-known human rights and environmental lawyer in his native Liberia, Brownell has always done work that raised eyebrows. He came of age in a country wracked by not one, but two bloody civil wars. He took a law degree in hopes of being able to do something to address the injustices he saw in his country.

His experience as a law student at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, University of Liberia, kindled what was to become a lifelong interest in Liberia’s environment. In 1997, while still a student, that interest led him to form Green Advocates, the first Liberian nongovernmental organization dedicated to environmental law.

green-advocates-meeting“We started Green Advocates in my house. It was an idea, in my brain, written on paper and kept in a folder. We had no money, no donors and no programs…just our own skills and a desire to help people. We called it Green Advocates because we saw what was happening to the environment in Liberia and how those changes were affecting the poorest people in the country…the people without a voice.”

When Alfred moved to New Orleans in early 2001 to seek an LL.M degree from Tulane University, his plan was to eventually return and work for the Liberian Government Environmental Protection Agency. Brownell was already the co-author of Liberia’s framework environmental laws.

Brownell returned to Liberia in 2004, it was not so clear that working with the government was the best way to addresses the injustice that he saw everywhere. “Looking at the human rights violations all across Liberia, I decided that I needed to find a way to directly help the people who were suffering from those violations the most. At that time, work in government was just not going to be the way to do that. I decided to make it my priority to develop Green Advocates into the organization that Liberia needed.”

Alfred and his colleagues slowly started to build a reputation as a public interest law organization that would take on situations that other lawyers preferred to avoid. Between 2004 and 2006, Green Advocates was involved in a number of major events that brought local, national and international attention to the work of the organization. These included:

rubber-tapperThe Bridgestone case brought international attention to Green Advocates. With support from a US based Law firm, Green Advocates filed suit against the company for child labor and forced labor and other abuses. While a District Court judge decided that claims of the more than twenty (20) child laborers were not meritorious, it held that corporation was liable for human rights violations and foreign plaintiffs could bring these claims under the Alien Torts Statute.  “Even though we lost that battle, we won the war,” says Mr. Brownell.

After the Bridgestone/Firestone case, Brownell and his colleagues continued to work on important cases in Liberia, but also became deeply involved in international human rights advocacy.

alfred-and-villagers“Yes, it was very interesting to be invited to Geneva, London and Washington to participate in international meetings, but I have always been happiest when I could spend time with people in the village, hearing about their problems and discussing what we could do to help. This was not a strategy: It has always been what we have wanted to do.” This might be because Alfred grew up in one such village, not far from the border with Sierra Leone. He first experienced the gleaming buildings of Monrovia when he was selected to attend university in the capital.

Around 2009, the Green Advocates office began to receive inquiries from villagers who were being displaced as the result of big land deals between the Liberian government and outside investors interested in establishing large-scale agricultural and mining operations in Liberia. The government was brushing aside the customary arrangements through which these communities had gained access to land for generations, in favor of lucrative leases to these multinational corporations. Many of the most important land acquisitions were designed to allow foreign companies set up palm oil plantations.

“What could we do? We knew that the amounts of money changing hands in these deals would make it dangerous to oppose them, but we also knew that these concessions were illegal and immoral. With people showing up at our offices in Monrovia every day to ask for help, we had no choice but to get involved.”

In addition to using judicial and non-judicial mechanisms to slow or stop these deals, Green Advocates joined an international discussion about how palm oil might be cultivated in a manner sustainable in social, economic and environmental terms. While this work has gained Green Advocates accolades around the world, it made them important and dangerous enemies at home.

LIberia_plantation_002.jpgAs both the Liberian government and international companies were forced to defend their actions in international fora, Green Advocates received increasing pressure to direct its efforts elsewhere. The threats came both in subtle and very direct ways, from unknown anonymous sources, and from the highest levels of the Liberian government. How those threats, and the intervention of a global network of human rights organizations brought Alfred to NUSL will be the subject of our next post.

Kevin Murray is Executive Director of the Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy at Northeastern University School of Law

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Follow up: IFC dumps Eco Oro investment amid questions over project’s environmental impact

By Devan Braun

mineria-en-el-paramoIn a recent post, Rightscapes analyzed the human right effects of arbitration mechanisms often included in bilateral and multilateral trade agreements. To illustrate these effects of these arbitration mechanisms, we used the example of Eco Oro, a Canadian mining company that had recently filed an arbitration request over actions taken by the Colombian Constitutional Court.

Since the publication of that post, the International Finance Corporation (“IFC) has announced its decision to divest from the Canadian company Eco Oro Minerals. The IFC’s announcement that it will sell off its 12.5% stake in Eco Oro comes about in the wake of the company’s recent filing requesting an arbitration proceeding over the project.

environmental-impactThe Bank initially began a detailed review of the project after receiving a formal complaint to its independent investigation mechanism from several environmental groups, including the Washington-based Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL). The review of various environmental and social aspects of IFC’s investment in Eco Oro Minerals Corp. resulted in a 52-page report that confirmed that the project did not meet several of the Bank’s internal requirements, including an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (“ESIA”). In its initial response to the report, IFC committed to continue monitoring the project, noting that the related ESIA had yet to be completed and that Eco Oro had suspended the project. After the report’s release, Eco Oro’s management confirmed that actions taken by the Colombian Constitutional court had rendered the project unviable, and that the company’s only path forward is the arbitration filing.

water-is-a-rightIFC’s divestment from its shares in Eco Oro confirms the potential negative impact of the project in Colombia, as the IFC’s spokesperson has stated that IFC will only invest in projects that have a positive impact on the development of Colombia. Its divestment lends further credence to Colombia’s decision to reject the mining project in the sensitive Angostura region, as it does not meet the required environmental and social frameworks required for such projects.

Devan Braun is a student at Northeastern University School of Law and served as a PHRGE Fellow at the Center for International Environmental Law

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International Arbitration: An Impediment for Human Rights and Environmental Law

By Devan Braun

water-is-a-rightThe Center for International Environmental Law  (“CIEL”) is an organization that advocates using the law to protect the environment, promote human rights, and support indigenous communities. During the course of my co-op there as a PHRGE fellow, I focused mainly on corporate accountability, and was drawn to research investor-state dispute settlements (“ISDS”), a little-known area of international law that has disastrous consequences for human rights and the environment.

Bilateral investment treaties are trade agreements between two States that often include international arbitration provisions, allowing corporations to sue States for enacting legislation designed to protect the public interest. ISDS often comes up in cases of mining investments and access to water services, after corporations have invested resources in development projects or extracting natural resources. When such projects face limitations due to the State’s environmental and social safeguards, corporations often resort to the arbitration mechanisms present in bilateral investment agreements as a means of recovering what they consider to be lost profits.

These international arbitration provisions were initially built into trade agreements in an attempt to attract foreign investment to States where the judicial systems were perceived as corrupt. Without such provisions, corporations worried about having a lack of legal recourse if they were wronged. Providing the option to go to an international tribunal, such as the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (“ICSID”), instead of domestic courts, gave corporations the protections and guarantees they sought in order to commit to investing in less-developed States. Notably, however, governments are consistently losing cases in these fora, or are forced into unfavorable settlements with corporations using the international arbitration system.

mineria-en-el-paramoA case example helps to illustrate this concept. Eco Oro, a Canadian mining company, filed a request for ICSID arbitration in the case of the Angostura gold mining project in the fragile, high-altitude wetland – known as the páramo – in Santurbán, Colombia. The páramo provides clean water to over one and a half million Colombians, and is a huge carbon sink, rich in endangered biodiversity. Eco Oro invested in a mining initiative in the páramo that has damaging environmental and social consequences through the use of cyanide to extract gold there. However, the Constitutional Court of Colombia recently affirmed that mining in the páramo violates the country’s constitution, stating that the protection of water sources takes precedence over any extractive project in these ecosystems. This ruling brought the Eco Oro project to a standstill.

Because of this action by the Colombian court to protect its citizens’ right to clean water and environmental preservation, Eco Oro has expressed its intent to sue the government of Colombia. Equally disturbing is the fact that, the International Finance Corporation, the private-lending arm of the World Bank with the mission to alleviate poverty and promote inclusive development, invested in Eco Oro’s mining project; a project that is now merely an arbitration-based investment.

ifc-divestMy work at CIEL confirmed that such cases are, unfortunately, quite common. The projects that resort to international arbitration often affect indigenous peoples’ right to free, prior, and informed consent concerning projects undertaken on their land, the human right to clean water, and other environmental obligations. The Eco Oro case is only one example of the way corporations use arbitration mechanisms to evade environmental and human rights accountability for their mining operations. Just this year, Venezuela was ordered to pay US$1.4 billion in taxpayer money to Canadian mining company Crystallex. These cases illustrate a systemic problem that impedes environmental and human rights defenders’ capacity to advocate on behalf of communities and ecosystems most vulnerable from development projects. We cannot expect to meaningfully address climate justice and human rights obligations, as well as harms against indigenous peoples, if investors can sue our governments for millions and billions of dollars for trying to do just that.

Devan Braun is a student at Northeastern University School of Law and served as a PHRGE Fellow at the Center for International Environmental Law

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Human Rights Under Trump: Taking on the Challenge

phrge-institute

On December 8-9, 2016, the Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy (PHRGE) will host its eleventh annual Human Rights Institute at Northeastern University School of Law (NUSL). This year’s Institute is entitled, “Global Justice Goes Local: The Emergence of Human Rights Cities.” The idea of bringing together academics, advocates and activists on the topic of local implementation of human rights was exciting to us when we agreed on this topic a year ago. The recent U.S. presidential election has made the topic even more timely than we originally anticipated.

trumpDonald Trump built a political campaign around misinformation, insults, bluster, and a series of campaign promises. Many of these involve promises to violate the human rights of immigrants, women, Muslims, people of color, etc. etc. We are confident that Trump and his political allies will not be able to carry out this terrifying agenda, but if he is able to keep even a fraction of his promises, a parade of human rights violations foretold awaits us.

Much human rights advocacy focuses on the obligations of national governments to implement human rights. The ratification of international human rights treaties by national governments activates those obligations, and the Universal Periodic Review process rightly draws the attention of activists to national progress on meeting treaty obligations.

However, state and local governments also have human rights obligations under human rights law, and activists are increasingly organizing themselves to demand that sub-national governments take seriously those obligations. The global discussion of “the right to the city,” and the human rights cities movement are two important manifestations of this trend, as are cities for CEDAW, sanctuary cities, and the considerable amount of issue-based organizing at the local level (housing, education, health care, etc.) that is making use of the human rights framework.

reject-trumpCivil society engagement with the U.S. federal government around its human rights obligations will certainly continue during a Trump administration. But that national engagement will more likely take the form of denuncia, in the Latin American sense of a cultural rejection of a systematic policy of human rights violations, and a principled refusal to legitimize that policy through engagement with its architects. Engagement at the state and, especially, the local level will become more important and productive arenas of human rights implementation in the next period.

hrc-forumIn this context, PHRGE’s 2016 Human Rights Institute becomes a perfect opportunity to analyze the relevance of the human rights framework to local social justice organizing. This two-day event will offer participants the chance to educate themselves about strategies to achieve local policies that advance human rights, and to engage in facilitated workshops designed to tackle real questions facing these efforts. Day One will consist of two informative panels, a reception to celebrate the release of, Global Urban Justice: The Rise of Human Rights Cities, one of the first books attempting to gather and analyze the experience of human rights cities, and a major keynote on the potential of human rights cities by Martha Davis, a PHRGE Faculty Co-Director and Professor of Law at NUSL. After a plenary presentation by Shulamith Koenig of the People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning (PDHRE), Day Two will turn to two intensive workshops in which participants will work on specific questions likely to face local human rights in the next period.

As Barbara M. Oomen, another co-editor of the book we will celebrate at this year’s Institute put it:

The rise of human rights cities does not only hold the potential of strengthening social justice in cities worldwide at a time in which it is direly needed and cities are best placed to deliver it, but also holds considerable promise for the realization of international human rights at a time when these rights—although omnipresent— suffer from considerable critique.

The 2016 PHRGE Institute aims to contribute to the realization of this powerful dual potential. As always, the Institute will attract people who have been using the human rights framework to advance their social justice work, along with others who have not yet embraced human rights in the same way.

public-conversationsDay One of this year’s Institute is open to the public and all are encouraged to attend. Due to our limited capacity for the second day, we ask that interested participants express their interest in participating in Day Two and we will invite participants on a space available basis. Past Institutes organized in this way have proven to be excellent learning and networking opportunities. Join us for a conversation about how we must all move forward in this new and challenging time.

Kevin Murray is Executive Director of the Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy at Northeastern University School of Law

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Health Care in the United States: A Right for All or None?

By Mary Slattery

health-care

Alameda Health Consortium

Despite the clear presence of a human right to health in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), there is no fundamental right to health or health care under United States law. Since it has not ratified the ICESCR, the US does not consider itself to be bound by the covenant’s provisions.

For the US to recognize a given right nationally, reference to it must be found in the Constitution itself or its Amendments, the first ten of which are known as the Bill of Rights. While state constitutions also guarantee some additional rights, the existence of those rights is confined to that state. There is no explicit or implicit reference to a right to health or health care in the federal Constitution however. Even many things that are colloquially referenced as a right, such the right to water or the right to education, are not recognized as fundamental rights in the federal context. The U.S. only recognizes rights of equal access to water and education, such that unless there is a very compelling reason, the government may not deny access to those people who are from a protected class any more than they do the rest of the population. This protection is found in both the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment and the Equal Protection clause of the 5th Amendment.

aca-signing

ACA Signed into Law

The passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in March 2010 gave many the impression that access to healthcare was now a right in the United States. This is understandable, given legislators’ frequent pronouncements that “everyone” would now have healthcare, that this right was for “all Americans,” and now the US “will join the community of nations that believe that the people who live within them are deserving of decent health care, all of them, regardless of their financial situation.” The access provided by the ACA is a legislatively-created statutory right, however, not a constitutional right.

Prior to the ACA, healthcare in the US was primarily a service for purchase. Insurance was most commonly bought privately or through employers, and the exorbitantly high costs of health care made it incredibly difficult for individuals to otherwise afford health expenses.  Certain government programs, such as Medicaid and Medicare, heavily subsidized the payments made by some vulnerable populations.

health-exchangeYet the cost of the insurance was still too high for much of the US population, which did not qualify for government programs, so many lacked any sort of health insurance. The ACA aimed to change that and create universal healthcare coverage by requiring insurers to offer more affordable insurance based upon the purchaser’s income level and making purchase of health insurance mandatory for all. Health care was to remain a service for purchase, but the ACA put in place reforms to promote the affordability of that purchase for all.

Looking at the experience of one group of people under the ACA—noncitizen immigrants to the US, for example, is one way of determining the extent to which the goal of universal care has been achieved. Despite the ACA’s goals and rhetoric in this regard, noncitizens continue to be excluded from the universal health care program. This exclusion extends not only to undocumented immigrants, but also to Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) in their first 5 years of residency. During that time, those legal residents of this country are ineligible for Medicaid.

health-care-for-allTwo different rationales are commonly used to argue that noncitizens are undeserving of health insurance and therefore should be excluded. The first is that noncitizens are free-riders who fail to pay into the health insurance system. This view is grounded in our unique notion of health insurance not as a right, but as something you only get if you can afford to pay for it. Furthermore, it seems to stem from the belief that if noncitizen immigrants were to be eligible for government subsidized healthcare in the US, they would arrive in unmanageable numbers to unfairly take advantage of the program. This is contradicted by the fact that LPRs do pay taxes which financially support our universal healthcare system, as do many undocumented immigrants. The second justification for the exclusion of noncitizens is precisely that they are not citizens, and the universal healthcare program is a privilege reserved exclusively for U.S. citizens. However, this is in conflict with the concept that health insurance is a product that anyone may purchase and not a right tied to our Constitution.

The prevalent conception of health care as a product for purchase and therefore a privilege, not a right, is a key impediment to making health care universal in the United States. Noncitizens disproportionately suffer the effects of this exclusion. Unless we recognize the right to health care of all living within our borders, it will be difficult to guarantee noncitizens access to health care that many citizens feel that they themselves do not have.

Sources:

Andrapalliyal, Vinita. “Healthcare for all”?: The Gap Between Rhetoric and Reality in the Affordable Care Act. UCLA Law Review. 61 UCLA L. Rev. Disc. 58 (2013).

http://www.uclalawreview.org/health-care-for-all-the-gap-between-rhetoric-and-reality-in-the-affordable-care-act/

Wolbert, Samuel. Universal Healthcare and Access for Undocumented Immigrants. Pittsburgh  Journal of Environmental and Public Health Law. 5 Pitt. J. Envtl Pub. Health L. 61 (Winter 2011). http://pjephl.law.pitt.edu/ojs/index.php/pjephl/article/view/23

Parmet, Wendy E. Who’s in?: Immigrants and Healthcare. The Oxford Handbook of U.S. Healthcare Law. (July 2015). http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199366521.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199366521-e-48

Mary Slattery is a second-year law student at Northeastern University School of Law

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Lack of access to health care for immigrants in the United States: A human rights violation?

By: Anel Morales

healthcare-human-right

Regardless of its shortcomings, health care reform in the U.S. has opened up access to health care for millions of people previously excluded from critical health services. However, immigrants, both documented and undocumented, have not shared equally in this opening of the system. The international human rights framework offers one perspective from which to view the effects of the exclusionary nature of the reform.

Two important documents, both published in 2010, attempt to apply the international human rights framework to the situation of immigrants, both documented an undocumented. Drawing on a variety of treaties, covenants and other sources of international law, The Boston Principles on the Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights of Noncitizens (“The Boston Principles”) and The International Migrants Bill of Rights (“IMBR”) summarize the legal framework for the protections of noncitizens and migrants.[1] These principles draw on some international treaties and standards that are legally-binding on the U.S., but they also include rights that the authors believe should be adopted as international human rights law. The Boston Principles and the IMBR both provide an extensive blueprint of rights for noncitizens and migrants in all legal practice areas using binding law and aspirational principles, which have not yet been recognized in treaties that have been ratified by the United States.[2]

One way to examine the value of these documents is to consider their relevance to the highly controversial question of immigrant access to health care in the United States. Since both documents draw on essentially the same sources in international law, they provide relatively similar language related to immigrant’s access to health care. Both state that “all persons, including [noncitizens and migrants], have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.” They specifically provide that noncitizens should also have equal access to health care and do not recognize distinctions based on immigration status. The IMBR further includes equal access to preventive, curative, and palliative health services by drawing on several international and regional human rights treaties that enumerate access to these critical health services.[3]

Also in 2010, the U.S. Congress passed a comprehensive reform of the national health care system, the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). The ACA was designed to establish universal health care for “all Americans” and establish a broad “right” to health care, but it merely continued to restrict coverage for immigrants.[4] The ACA bars immigrants who do not have lawful immigration status from gaining access to health care insurance, which includes DREAMers and the millions of undocumented immigrants residing in the United States. This large population of immigrants arguably contributes to our economy and considers the U.S. their home, but due to their lack of immigration status, they are not considered eligible for the “universal” health care promised by the ACA. This treatment certainly does not conform to the international standards outlined in the IMBR and the Boston Principles.

Moreover, even most documented immigrants (“qualified non-citizens” as they are referred to in the ACA) who have been granted immigration status for less than five years at the time of their health care application are ineligible to receive Medicaid under the ACA.[5] To address this problem, the ACA provides that noncitizens with incomes below 100% of the federal poverty line, $11,880 ($24,300 for household of 4) may receive tax credits and subsidies for the purchase of some form of health insurance on the private market. However, this does not guarantee access and may not be a viable solution for many low-income immigrants due to the high cost of private insurance.

In light of the negative practical effects of the ACA on noncitizens, several scholars have proposed different ways to remedy the exclusion of immigrants from health care services. One partial solution would be to provide health care to undocumented children, who can currently only receive the very limited and expensive care provided in emergency rooms. This limitation does not allow access to pediatricians who can provide specialized medical attention. [6] There is a strong argument that providing care to these children, especially preventive care, might well reduce health care costs. Similarly, some propose amendments to the ACA to include basic health coverage for undocumented immigrants. Again, the argument is an economic one that such a change would help to relieve state budgetary burdens, especially public hospital budgets.

healthcare-for-immigrants

These types of alternatives may provide a way to close the gap that currently exists between immigrant access to health care in the U.S., and the hope that noncitizens will possess “the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health,” as described in The Boston Principles and the IMBR. These documents may not be binding law, but the notion that international standards include a right to adequate healthcare for all can be useful in helping to plant the seed for litigation arguments or public policy changes that immigrants desperately need in this country.

[1] Both documents use different terminology. Noncitizens are foreign-born individuals living in the United States who have not obtained citizenship, including both lawfully present immigrants and undocumented immigrants. Migrant is a term commonly used in Europe and means someone who is in the process of relocating to another country or place, or someone who has already moved.

[2] http://www.northeastern.edu/law/academics/institutes/phrge/publications/boston-principles.html

[3] http://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1006&context=spps_papers

[4] http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199366521.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199366521-e-48

[5] https://kaiserfamilyfoundation.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/8279-02.pdf

[6] http://pjephl.law.pitt.edu/ojs/index.php/pjephl/article/view/23/23

Anel Morales is a third-year law student at Northeastern University School of Law.

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