Social Work Practice with Immigrants and Refugees

By Pallassana R. Balgopal | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1
SOCIAL WORK PRACTICE WITH IMMIGRANTS
AND REFUGEES: AN OVERVIEW
Pallassana R. Balgopal

The purpose of this volume is to examine and develop the role of social workers serving new immigrants and refugees in the United States. New immigrants are considered in this text as those immigrants who entered the United States after 1965. In the past,“old” immigrants were the first groups that settled the country, and “new” immigrants were the Eastern and Southern Europeans arriving since the nineteenth century.

Today's immigrants represent much greater diversity with regard to country of origin, race and ethnicity, spoken language, religion, and, often, different value systems. In addition to Mexico, today's arrivals come mostly from Asia, Central and Latin America, and the Caribbean. Where once there were Jewish pushcart peddlers, now there are Korean green grocers, Indian newsstand dealers, Ethiopian and Caribbean bus boys, Mexican and Central American gardeners and farmhands, Vietnamese fishermen, and Nigerian and Pakistani cab drivers. The presence of new immigrants, especially from the Asian countries, is particularly evident in the health-care and high-technology fields. In sum, the American landscape, both urban and rural, now reflects the faces and lifestyles of the new immigrants (Foner 1998).

As table 1.1 shows, the composition of the immigrant population changed between the early 1800s and 1990s, making the United States a mosaic of multiculturalism. This drastic change in the immigrants' profiles was a result of the passage of the Immigration and Nationalities Act of 1965. This act repealed the quotas for each country and instead set 20,000 immigrants per country in the Eastern Hemisphere and established a seven-category preference system based

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