Social Work Practice with Immigrants and Refugees

Social Work Practice with Immigrants and Refugees

Social Work Practice with Immigrants and Refugees

Social Work Practice with Immigrants and Refugees

Synopsis

The United States has always been a land of immigrants and a destination for refugees. With the increase in immigration in the late 1980s -- when the number of refugees entering the United States nearly doubled as well -- the number of clients needing social work services rose dramatically. Social Work Practice with Immigrants and Refugees takes an ecological systems perspective on working with these two distinct groups, paying special attention to the relationship between individuals and their social environment. Focusing on the major immigrant groups who have come to the United States since the 1965 Immigration Act, the book contains chapters on immigrants and refugees from Asia, Latin America, Europe, and Africa. Pallassana R. Balgopal and contributors explore ideas, concepts, and skills that will help human service workers, social workers, helping professionals, and policymakers deepen their understanding of cultural attitudes toward newly arrived immigrants and refugees, thus strengthening their ability to better serve an ethnically diverse clientele.

Excerpt

From its inception, the United States has been a land of immigrants. Likewise, the field of social work has a long history of working with immigrants and refugees. In the nineteenth century, charity organizations and missions assisted with social welfare services to immigrants and their families, and at the beginning of the social work profession, the “friendly visitor” helped families in need. The settlement house movement in the late nineteenth century focused on improving the environment and quality of life by teaching English and American values to the immigrant communities. Neighborhood centers were opened all over the United States, providing a variety of services.

During its first years, the majority of immigrants to the United States were from Europe, plus those individuals who were brought from Africa by force as slaves. The long-standing quota system regulating the number of immigrants from each country was finally abolished with the passage of the Immigration Act of 1965, resulting in increased numbers of immigrants from Asia and Latin America. Then the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 enabled illegal immigrants who had been in the United States for more than five years to claim legal residence.

The United States has long welcomed refugees fleeing persecution, war, or natural disaster. Historically, the expectation has been that immigrants and refugees would learn and adopt American values, norms, and the English language as their way of life. But this has been difficult for many people, and instead, a blend of new cultures has been the result. This idea of a “melting pot” is that the immigrants' traditions are combined with Anglo-American customs to . . .

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