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Arlene M. Roberts
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Arlene M. Roberts, an attorney turned policy analyst, is the author of an independent study The Faces of Detention and Deportation: A Report on the Forced Repatriation of Immigrants from the English-Speaking Caribbean, the first and only in-depth study on the topic. Her report has been highlighted in the New York Daily News, Trinidad Guardian, Trinidad Newsday and by the Migration Policy Institute; she has been interviewed by the British Broadcasting Corporation and reviewed in law blogs.

Arlene is an expert in the intersection of law and public policy. She is a communication strategist skilled in using opinion to influence policy; a writer adept at distilling data/research then crafting it into a comprehensive, credible narrative.

Born in Trinidad, West Indies, Arlene graduated (BA/Hons) from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, with a concentration in History of International Development (D.I.S. Program). She earned her Juris Doctor from Quinnipiac University School of Law in Hamden, CT. Email:

Entries by Arlene M. Roberts

Not For Everyday Use

(0) Comments | Posted March 29, 2014 | 11:24 AM

Ask any parent and they hasten to tell you about the vision or aspirations they harbor for their children. The method adopted for realizing the dream varies from household to household. And oftentimes, it takes the death of one or both parents for the child, by then an adult, to...

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Stokely: A Life

(4) Comments | Posted March 5, 2014 | 1:52 PM

Last Sunday morning as I stood in line at Allan's Bakery, a West Indian establishment two doors down from Rep. Yvette Clarke's office on Nostrand Avenue, I fervently read Stokely: A Life. The patrons ahead of me and behind me, both elderly women, exchanged greetings. I waited for a break...

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Book Review: If I Never Went Home

(0) Comments | Posted December 13, 2013 | 1:54 PM

"Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi" translates as "It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten" or, loosely stated, "You can always go home again." One Saturday morning over brunch, a Ghanaian friend mentioned the old proverb. But what if someone never quite...

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As Flies to Whatless Boys: Trini Vernacular and Caribbean Identity

(0) Comments | Posted October 10, 2013 | 4:09 PM

"It's Trini vernacular cell phone text speak," author Robert Antoni announced before reading an excerpt from his novel, As Flies to Whatless Boys, at a Brooklyn Book Festival bookend event held recently at MoCADA. With each sentence the novel came vividly to life, delighting the diverse audience, not only because...

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Native Tongue: Speaking With a Caribbean Accent

(3) Comments | Posted February 4, 2013 | 1:26 PM

"Where are you from?" Thus begins the conversation and the constant reminder that it's not just what you say, but how you say it, especially when the content is delivered with a Caribbean accent. As a Caribbean islander transplanted in New York, I am often perplexed by the response even...

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Being a Nanny in a Post-Bill of Rights State

(2) Comments | Posted May 1, 2012 | 3:29 PM

The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights ushered in a new era for nannies and house-keepers in New York. Or did it? It has been almost a year and a half since the legislation was enacted. This May Day would be a great opportunity to step back and assess the benefits.

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A Day in the Life of a Domestic Worker

(0) Comments | Posted March 13, 2012 | 6:37 PM

Mention the term elder care and, invariably, the discussion focuses on the so-called 'sandwich generation,' the offspring of the elderly who either move back in with or near to parents so as to better care for them. But for seniors who do not live in close proximity to their children...

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Rethinking Education: Should It Be a Civil Right?

(9) Comments | Posted January 17, 2012 | 3:39 PM

Education has long been regarded as an avenue for upward mobility, touted as a surefire way of breaking cycles of poverty. But as access to education, particularly higher education, becomes out of the reach of many, the question inevitably arises, "Should education be a civil right?"

Several months ago, the...

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The West Indian Day Parade: An Island Woman's Perspective

(2) Comments | Posted December 8, 2011 | 7:30 AM

Forget Christmas, New Year's Day or even Presidents' Day, my favorite holiday remains Labor Day, and I choose to celebrate it in Brooklyn. Why? Every Labor Day Monday a stretch of Eastern Parkway, from Utica Avenue to Grand Army Plaza, is transformed into a temporary stage showcasing music, talent and...

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NY Governor Pardons Caribbean Immigrants

(0) Comments | Posted December 13, 2010 | 11:17 AM

In 1738, the French philosopher Voltaire wrote, "Love truth, but pardon error." Last week, New York Governor Paterson adhered to that maxim when he pardoned four Caribbean immigrants facing deportation.

Mario Benitez, Marlon Oscar Powell, Sanjay Broomfield and Darshini Ramsaran are nationals of the Caribbean - Dominican Republic, Jamaica,...

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On Securing Communities in New York

(0) Comments | Posted December 9, 2010 | 7:59 AM

Coming soon to a nabe near you: the Secure Communities program, courtesy Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). But introduction and implementation of Secure Communities is being met with fierce opposition, as advocates call on Governor Paterson to rescind his Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with ICE aimed at bringing the ill-conceived...

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The Deportation Regime

(0) Comments | Posted November 19, 2010 | 12:58 PM

Freedom of movement, the ability to cross borders, to create a new life in an adopted homeland is a goal to which many aspire - and even achieve. Immigrants later discover, however, that these freedoms can be restricted or even reversed, by detention and deportation, hence the label deportspora. In...

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Deportation Roulette

(0) Comments | Posted November 11, 2010 | 4:18 PM

It is understood that a legal permanent resident who has a brush with the law would be subject to the consequences - including deportation - based on the nature of his/her offense. The government maintains that its priority when deporting immigrants has been on offenders of serious crimes. But preliminary...

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The Homecoming: Re-entry and Reintegration of Returnees

(0) Comments | Posted October 22, 2010 | 2:36 PM

"You can never go home again." At least, that's the way the refrain goes. And many Caribbean immigrants are coming to terms with the realization that they will never be able to return to their adopted hometowns or cities in the United States. Instead, they face repatriation to the country...

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Calls to End Human Rights Abuses in Detention and Deportation System

(1) Comments | Posted October 10, 2010 | 4:10 PM

In 2008, there were approximately 1,000 immigrants who were being held in detention in New Jersey. In 2010, there are 1,500 immigrants currently being held for suspected immigration violations at the Elizabeth Detention Center and in five county jails (Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Monmouth and Sussex). A spike in the number...

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Immigration Detention Reform, One Year Later

(1) Comments | Posted October 6, 2010 | 9:24 AM

The immigration detention system will be a "truly civil detention system," one aimed at safely and humanely holding people accused of civil immigration violations until they are deported or released. That was the pledge made by the Obama administration about a year ago. Despite implementing measures such as the Detention...

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Deadline Approaches for Immigrants Seeking a Pardon to Relieve Deportation Consequences

(0) Comments | Posted September 30, 2010 | 9:41 AM

This past spring, Gov. Paterson pardoned a young immigrant with a minor criminal record dating back to his teenage years. Shortly thereafter, the governor announced his intention to establish a pardons panel to review the cases of immigrants facing deportation on account of old or minor convictions. Reminder, the deadline...

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Committed: An Immigration Love Story

(3) Comments | Posted September 24, 2010 | 10:09 AM

Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir in which she chronicles her global quest for solace post-divorce, enjoyed an extensive run on the New York Times bestseller list. The book was then adapted into a movie, with actress Julia Roberts playing the part of Ms. Gilbert. In her follow-up book, Committed,...

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Isolated in Detention: Legal Representation and Detained Immigrants

(1) Comments | Posted September 14, 2010 | 2:36 PM

Access to legal counsel is one of the fundamental tenets of American jurisprudence. But in instances when access is of critical importance, most notably by immigrants held in detention, more often than not access is denied or near impossible to attain. Under U.S. law, individuals in immigration proceedings are not...

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IACHR Rules That Deportation Not in the Child's Best Interest

(0) Comments | Posted August 18, 2010 | 12:20 PM

There are myriads of ways family units can come under strain - death or illness of a parent, separation or divorce. In immigrant communities, mandatory deportation has emerged as one of the primary causes or stressors, when a parent with a criminal conviction (however minor or old), is sent back...

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