Immigration is an activity that has been going on all over the world. People leave their countries of origin for different reasons. Some are looking for greener pastures in terms of economic ventures. Others are looking for peaceful grounds where their countries or provinces have moments of war. Globalization has contributed to higher levels of immigration as distance between places has been reduced through faster and effective means of transport and communication. Trade has also been liberalized as people move towards a global village.
Immigrant population in the US cannot be underscored as it forms approximately a fifth of the whole population. Immigration is responsible for a drastic change in a country’s population. In the US, the government fails to establish easy assimilation into the country but more and more immigrants move in. Cultural change is subject to occur as different cultures interact. Immigrants exchange cultural practices where one group adopts a new culture or uses it to enrich its own.
Some cultures consider their culture superior and they expect other to adopt it. The country encourages immigration of those it deems important to the economy for the interest of the Americans. Those with professional skills that would help enrich the US human resource capital are encouraged to migrate in. Immigration laws however restricted ‘other people’ from moving into the US. The government made it clear that employers had to keep a record of all their employees and fund their medical billings. This discouraged immigrants from searching for employment for fear of being deported. (Bill Hing, 2)
People from the developing countries continue to migrate to the US where they believe there are more job opportunities. Since the legal framework does not offer such chances they are forced to do so illegally. Most of them are semi-illiterate or completely illiterate and will therefore have problems adjusting. Lack of a translator results to chaotic problems as communication is affected negatively. With lower professional skills the jobs at their disposal are semi-skilled positions. Such positions offer less income which translates to poor living standards. Again most employers are aware of their plight and they take advantage of them by not giving them medical insurance. The income earned is at times too little to educate their children, buy food and seek quality health. Their health is consequently side lined.
Immigrants could contribute to safe transfer of resources from one place to another causing economic growth in the host country. Critics therefore wonder why US still has strong restriction on the US government. It is accused of perpetuating illegal immigrant settlement to exploit the cheap labor.
Immigration affects key areas of an economy for instance the social institutions like schools, hospitals or health care facilities and the job market. Intensified immigration exerts pressure on available resources. As the years go by immigrants children will be adults who can influence the political scenario in the country. Therefore the role of the immigrant can not be underestimated.
Immigrants face detrimental effects in the countries they settle. Those with Asian origin are at times seriously scrutinized due to allegations that they could be terrorists. This intensified after the 9/11. The immigrants segregate themselves from the mainstream population probably for the fear of intimidation from them. Changing people perception on immigrants would work to make their acceptance easy. Immigrant’s children grow with rejection and they risk internalizing this perception.
Adults’ immigrants have started to form close relationships where they learn of how to re-organize themselves and equip themselves better for the future. They form social contracts that enable them to easily adapt to the new culture. When immigrants form groups and settle in certain outskirts they are with drawn from the mainstream society. (Gibson M, 23)
Due to their level of employment they lack health care insurance and they have to use the ‘out of pocket’ approach which is expensive. This hinders most of them from accessing quality healthcare. With the rise of commercialized health care, even consultation demands for money. The overall effect of this is reduced consultative patterns for the immigrants. Preventive diseases consequently become uncontrollable and immigrants succumb to these diseases. The children of such families are not safe at all and are prone to disease pandemic.
In areas where such migrants are located have poor sanitation and poor housing. This makes them prone to serious outbreaks that would cause their deaths. Again poor transportation acts as a barrier to their effective movement to their places of work and to seek medical assistance. This works to increase the number of immigrants in the emergency wards as they wait till it is too late when severe impacts have already taken place.
Some immigrants can only communicate with one language. Expressing their needs is affected as communication is negatively affected. When seeking medical help or care they feel as though they could be treated differently if they belonged to another tribe or race. They tend to argue with their doctors and some do not follow their prescription. Miscommunication could lead to treatment of something different all together. Such a mistake can harm the patient more instead of healing or treating them. It could even lead to death of the victims.
Too much geographical mobility sees family members separating or completely divorcing causing disintegration of families. Children of such families suffer loss and attachment which are forms of grief. (Gonzalez R G. & Sanchez N M, 49)
The Real ID Act of 2005 in the US to curb terrorism consisted frightened laws that saw illegal migrants deported to their home countries. Those supporting immigrants were to be jailed. This made it hard or difficult for them to move easily from one place to the other. Immigrants were consequently forced to operate underground and this perpetuates the illegal black market.
Canada on the contrary welcomes immigrants and could offer them assistance on where to reside. They believe that immigrants are untapped resources that can work to develop the country.
Immigrants continue to use their mother language and this makes it hard for students entering the US schools. It interferers with their proper personality integration and could lead to moral or educational disorientation. Prior study on the host country’s character would lessen the extent of culture shock. On settling in new countries immigrants look for a friend or two of their own culture thus affecting the solid background on their mother culture. It is crucial to learn more on one’s own culture to enable the immigrant better understand the new culture. (Kurtz C B. & Pungello E, 123)
Many youngsters or teenagers migrate to foreign countries especially to attain higher education or to accompany their parents as they move to new areas. The school forms the first institution immigrant children encounter on migrating to new countries. They face discrimination from other students in the host countries. To overcome these effects they form support groups with those they share common origin. Complete acculturation could take a period of 3 to 5 years and failure to successfully adapt to the new culture causes negative effects on the children’s academic performance. (Gonzalez R G. & Sanchez N M, 50)
Younger children would adapt easily to new environment than teenagers would. Although acculturation stress varies with different individuals it is bound to be experienced by all. Children who experience acculturative stress may exhibit behavioral problems in school where they may appear withdrawn, become aggressive or have difficulties socializing. They may also have difficulties achieving academic success. (Gibson M, 19)
Child care for immigrants will be very appropriate in helping them settle own in the face of new culture and languages. Communication through a language that one well understands makes them feel more secure and they form strong bonds among them.
Such children face difficulties in understanding or learning new languages as well as new cultures. Minimal discrimination from the teacher’s side will not only be a move to appreciate cultural diversity but will work to build the children’s cooperation.
Movement from one region to another calls for changes in the manner of thinking as well as adjustment to new residence, economic endowment as well as social networks. Culture shock affects the adults more especially when their children depart from the traditional ways of handling things to adopt the ‘modern’ ways of life. Generally the young are quick to adopt new cultures as compared to the older people in the society.
The family structure affects adoption to the new culture. Families that are very rigid offer less support systems and such families become isolated or disengaged from other activities in the society. Isolation is promoted further by unfamiliarity with new language values and beliefs of a new culture. Families that are less rigid embrace the new cultures fast and assimilation takes place effectively. Cultural groups, religious groups and families help to reduce the impact of the culture shock. Such groups offer social support and the immigrants share their experiences.
Immigrants have new experiences to handle for instance a foreign language, occupation opportunities, uncertainty and opportunities open out there. Adaptation depends on individual or family which dictates if there exists different perception on news situation, coping mechanism and the environment where cultivation is to be done. Young adults are the most affected especially due to peer influence which can see them engage in destructive deeds. (Kurtz C B. & Pungello E, 122)
Immigrants are in most cases perceived to be wrong doers and are associated with crime like smuggling and drug trafficking. This conviction affects the immigrants self esteem and tends to sustain their staying in seclusion. They are treated with a lot of suspicion and more so during critical times like the 9/11 where they are thought to pose a threat to the country’s security. (Bill H, 2)
Employers exploit the immigrants by paying them less and discriminating them on basis of gender when women were paid less than men. They are also prone to face discrimination or stereotypes because they are considered different from others.
Immigrants have unique challenges that include increase infant mortality rate, higher prevalence for HIV/AIDS and a growing trend of violence and abuse among the youth. This could be attributed to the fact that adaptation becomes hard under strenuous conditions. There is a wide economic, social and political gap between them and the mainstream population. Due to the kind of jobs they engage in for instance the semi-skilled jobs they earn lesser income to attain higher standards of living. They can barely afford the basic necessities like food and affording good health facility accessibility or quality education deems hard.
Immigrants have lower tendencies to seek medical treatment. This could be attributed to the fact they internalize the feeling that they are stigmatized and they feel vulnerable. They can suffer from mutism, a severe anxiety disorder that would see them act in hostility. Some immigrants may have a history of trauma given by the fact that they were running to escape hostile condition. With poverty and lack of health insurance to enable them acquire quality health care. (Kurtz C B. & Pungello E, 123)
They risk suffering from depression. In most cases the jobs that immigrants do, call for over work so as increase the incomes. These long and at times inflexible hours of work make it hard for them to keep hospital appointment. Some due to ignorance may not forfeit work to seek health care. Inability to communicate in English and inadequate translators or medical staff who understands their language further deteriorates their health care access.
Delayed medical attention worsens their condition and causes detrimental effects. In case of the mental health they tend to seek attention from medical staff when the damage is already done and what could have controlled is beyond repair.
In trying to adjust and cope with the new environment, immigrants seek the churches for support. With reduced socialization opportunities and hindrances from language barriers assimilation deems difficult. Domestic violence could also prevail thus causing detrimental effects to women and children. Conflicts are more likely to occur due to the problems immigrants face in their day to day activities. Parents could also suffer mental instability due to their drug addicted children. (Gibson M, 21)
On migrating to view areas immigrants need to overcome their differences and those of the host. They have to overcome the language and cultural barriers to become like the host. Discrimination against immigrants has contributed to the high levels of joblessness, poverty and welfare dependency.
The world health organization (WHO) estimates that 50% of 200 million immigrants suffer from mentally related problems ranging from chronic disorders to trauma and distress. Some result to alcohol and drug abuse to pacify their fate. Stigma, shame and exclusion leads to detrimental effects like death.
Experiencing traumatic incidences like war, extreme famine, poverty and natural disaster exposes women and children to rape, torture and HIV/AIDS. Acculturation is difficult due to the fact that prejudice and discrimination are prevalent. Psychological distress could arise due to discrimination where one may have the skills but fails to attain a high position in society and has to look for manual jobs to sustain their families children’s education is affected as the country they migrate to may offer a different curriculum altogether.
Adapting to this new way of education could be hectic to immigrant’s children. The children may be forced to join their parents in farms to supplement the income. This could cause serious disruptions in their education hindering their chance to acquire academic excellence and hence professional advancement. This could cause psychological distress as it could affect them emotionally.
The immigrants have to compromise on which culture to adopt. They have to come up with a critical choice of either retaining their old folk ways or forfeiting their culture for the new culture. The young in the family are quick to acculturate and there are constant family conflicts on this issue. High levels of depression or distress perpetuate anxiety and post traumatic disorder and consequently a high prevalence for suicide. (Gibson M, 20)
Health care provided to immigrants ought to be culturally and linguistically competent especially the mental health care which also demands for critical attention. Care that doesn’t meet that requirement yields no fruits in addressing immigrants’ health problems. It will see lesser numbers of immigrants seeking the care due to the feeling that they are rejected and nobody cares. Financial constraints hinder immigrants from accessing quality health care. Handling immigrants by being ignorant on the culturally and linguistically competent care creates mistrust between immigrants and the care provider. Inaccessible health insurance also negatively affects the rate at which immigrants would seek health care.
The Medicaid though set to assist the minority it is not effective. The federal government has a lot of bureaucracy and it restricts recent immigrants, pregnant women and children who are not covered. At times lack of information on where to locate certain places or attain certain skills hinders effective adaptation. Infant mortality of immigrants is high.
Adapting to a new culture whether voluntary or forced yields a certain degree of stress. Communication affects the way a case is reported, explained and this could result to misdiagnosis and treatment. (Gibson M, 19)
Alcohol abuse is used by many immigrants as a way of pacifying their stress. Others result to drug abuse which has seen the cases of HIV/AIDS rise to levels that call for much attention. Though people could result to drug abuse for varying reasons some use it as a manifestation of social marginalization or integration. They indulge in drugs to fight against the system of the day that leaves them marginalized. It is an expression of anger to their predicament. (Bill H, 2)
Immigrants move from their original homes to look for better pastures. This can be referred to as the pull factor where viable countries attract them to move there. Others move due to the push factor where prevailing circumstances are unfavorable and push them out. The issue of immigration is highly politicized. Immigrants are harshly treated and seen as criminals who society faces with a lot of suspicion. Criminalizing undocumented immigrants would work to encourage more activities in the black market which is not viable economically.
Such factors include war or epidemics, pull factors install in the migrant the hope that condition out there are better. On moving to new areas they come to realize that the hostile living conditions prevail. This is a great disappointment and a turn off to entrepreneurship. The greater disappointment can be seen in the psychological distress the immigrant goes through. Those migrating due to the push factors are amazed as they move from one form of exploitation to another. They come to realize that hostile conditions are everywhere.
Immigrants living in overcrowded areas that have poor sanitation and thus prone to disease outbreaks. Illegal immigrants fear being expelled and hence shy away from seeking health services. Fear of being expelled ensures the spread of such diseases like TB.
Immigrant women face more challenges as they try to adapt to the new culture. They are prone to carry abortions, bear low weight babies and tend to deliver premature babies. Infant mortality could be due to the fact that there is limited postnatal and antenatal care.
Gibson M. Immigrant adaptation and patterns of acculturation.
Human Development, 44(1), 2001. 19-23.
Gonzalez-Ramos G. & Sanchez-Nester M. Responding to immigrant children’s mental health needs in the schools. Children and Schools, 23(1), 2001. 49-63
Kurtz-Costes B., & Pungello E. Acculturation and immigrant children: Implications for educators. Social Education, 64(2), 2001 121-125.
Gibson M. Immigrant adaptation and patterns of acculturation. Human Development, 44(1), 2001 19-23.
Bill Hing: The immigrant as criminal: Punishing dreamers.9 Hasting women’s law 1998 Journal 79. p 2