Immigration law can’t discriminate against ‘habitual drunkards,’ court rules – LA Times

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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17 Responses

  1. Damon says:

    Well, it IS the 9th circuit.Report

  2. Trizzlor says:

    Good. It’s long past time that the law recognize addiction as a disability. If Congress wants the law to keep out the disabled they should amend the law.Report

    • Art Deco in reply to Trizzlor says:

      Only if you wish to deny free will and personal responsibility and generate more addiction. (One of my regular correspondents whose an enemy of the SSDI as currently constituted tells me that he has clients who’ve been granted it whose only disability is that they are drug addicts). Looking at the demographic profile of disability recipients in 1970 and comparing it with today’s is a disconcerting experience.Report

      • trizzlor in reply to Art Deco says:

        Definitions are important. Your motives for disability recipients should have nothing to do with how we actually define disability. Addiction is not meaningfully different from other psychiatric disorders: a substantial heritable component, an environmental trigger, and can be effectively treated with medication. We should promote clear laws: if the legislature wants to deport people with psychiatric disorders, they should say so explicitly and let the people judge; if they don’t want give disability to people with psychiatric disorders, they should say so explicitly and let the people judge.Report

        • Art Deco in reply to trizzlor says:

          Addiction is not meaningfully different from other psychiatric disorders: a substantial heritable component, an environmental trigger, and can be effectively treated with medication.

          The concept of ‘psychiatric disorders’ you’re delineating provides a conduit for throwing just about any anomaly of human behavior and disposition into its maw. It does not justify treating ‘addiction’ as a ‘psychiatric disorder’. It justifies junking the practice of awarding disability for anything other than bodily injury, exceptionally low intelligence, and schizophreniform disorders.

          and can be effectively treated with medication.

          I had to howl at that one.Report

      • Francis in reply to Art Deco says:

        The problem with denying disability to addicts is that, if we deny these people relatively small federal disability payments, states and counties end up bearing the much greater burden of incarceration.

        There have always been people who can’t find / hold down steady employment. Back when I was in college in the 80s, economists insisted that the lump of labor theory was a fallacy. Life in former manufacturing states from the Rust Belt to Appalachia to the Southeast appears to disprove that assertion. The numbers of permanently unemployable appear to be rising with no visible solution (no matter what Trump says), and with those rising numbers come increasing addictions.

        So now what? Doom 50-year old ex-factory workers to a life of penury? Tell them to move to a city and find a job? Use the criminal justice system to provide housing and mental health services? Or pay a really small sum of money so that they can eke out a living without turning to crime.

        I suppose in the Golden Days of America ™, workhouses and sanitoriums and old-age homes and other forms of ultra-low cost communal housing were the solution. But unless you put ‘those people’ under lock and key, you can’t stop them from congregating in public spaces and making life unpleasant for the proper people. And since those Liberal Judges ™ have actually started putting some teeth into the Due Process clause, locking them up is a lot harder than it used to be.

        No easy solutions, I’m afraid.Report

    • greginak in reply to Trizzlor says:

      Defining addiction as a disability would be a really iffy proposition. Addicts struggle and struggle with controlling or stopping their addiction. If you tie money to their addiction then you are giving them another reason to keep using. If they can be disabled while not using then there are problems there. In practice defining addiction as compared to abuse is not easy or precise. Many people were addicts but maintain years or decades of sobriety AND are able to work. Do they get disability payments. Addiction is different from other mental illnesses in that a deeply depressed person doesn’t’ want to stay depressed while addicts often very much want to use.

      If we are talking the most hard core addicts who can’t seem to stay sober, create criminal problems and are/ close to indigent then there might be an argument for that. But disability payments don’t’ create the support programs they often need.Report

      • trizzlor in reply to greginak says:

        I didn’t mean to imply disability *benefits*. I mean “disability” as in “disorder”, like schizophrenia or clinical depression. As far as I’m aware, not everyone with a psychiatric disorder has money tied in to their condition, nor is cash the only way to address it. If you look on a case-by-case basis you will see that many of the same factors apply to other psychiatric disorders. Someone who has MDD and is a cutter will: (1) make a “choice” to cut themselves the same way an alcoholic makes a choice to drink; (2) will argue that they are happier and better functioning with cutting the same way an alcoholic will; (3) can go years without relapsing; (4) will typically have a family history; (5) will typically benefit from medication and council just like an alcoholic. The outdated idea that addiction is all about willpower – in large part perpetuated by 12 step programs which have terrible success rates – is not consistent with the modern understanding of both etiology and treatment of addiction.Report

        • greginak in reply to trizzlor says:

          ahh i see. That makes more sense. Defining addiction is still tricky and pretty rough in practice though.

          12 step programs are interesting. For those that they help they are brilliant and irreplaceable and something that you couldn’t’ set out to make if you tried. They can be amazing. And they don’t’ work for lots of people, are very set in their ways, often have odd biases ( lots of alcoholics really look down on other addicts) and are far from the complete answer for substance abuse treatment.Report

          • trizzlor in reply to greginak says:

            Yeah, the issue with AA is that it’s often presented as the only solution, and it stigmatizes failure to a destructive degree. It’s one thing for a program to say “If this doesn’t work, try something else” but it’s irresponsible to say “This works for everyone unless you’re not letting it work”. It should be recommended as a last resort, after standard interventions have failed, but somehow it has this hold on the popular culture and even the medical establishment.Report

            • greginak in reply to trizzlor says:

              12 step programs are standard for after care. They are what is offered after a person leaves treatment. After in or out patient treatment there really isn’t’ anything else for a person to support them long term. Most treatment programs are less then six months unless someone has a real long term and hard core problem. 12 St Pr’s are there for years everyday of the week with new friends, rituals, advice and a hand up. They are irreplaceable for care after active treatment is complete which is where people really need help. Lots of people can make it through treatment. But can they make it back at home with their families and work and all the old stresses and habits. 12 step programs are there for people at that time.Report

              • trizzlor in reply to greginak says:

                I’m not trying to sound prickly: I agree that AA saves lives and helps people. But the fact that it’s often the only thing available is more a testament to the poor state of addiction management in the US than it is a testament to the effectiveness of AA. My issue isn’t so much with folks being directed to AA after treatment, it’s folks being directed to AA after multiple failed attempts before they’re informed of alternatives.

                Research into addiction is pretty poor, but look at this meta-analysis which finds simple treatments like brief interventions (i.e. a periodic 5 minute talk with an expert) or medication in the top 10, with AA ranked 38th.Report

              • greginak in reply to trizzlor says:

                I agree there needs to be more treatment options and modalities. More research also. Treatment should be covered by health insurance. In fact is has been the D’s, including Hillary as a i remember, who have pushed for parity; treating mental health/ substance abuse treatment like physical problems in regards to health insurance.Report

    • Damon in reply to Trizzlor says:

      And yet, we have laws against immigration that aren’t enforced, so why bother. Or are you saying that we should build the “Trump Wall”. 🙂Report

  3. Christopher Carr says:

    I’d think we’d be better off, and at least far more efficient, if we stopped trying to micromanage what kind of people we allow to exist here and instead create the right incentives for such people to voluntarily come.Report

  4. LeeEsq says:

    This makes the professional life of immigration lawyers like myself easier along with the lives of immigrants seeking immigration relief.Report