Social Work Practice with Immigrants and Refugees

By Pallassana R. Balgopal | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION
Pallassana R. Balgopal

The United States, a nation of immigrants, has evolved into a rich tapestry of intricately woven cultures, ethnicities, languages, religions, customs, and values. As chapter 1 showed, the three dimensions ofAnglo conformity, melting pot, and assimilation have influenced immigrants' adaptation to their new homeland. Becoming an American means thinking, speaking, and behaving like an American—and often having to give up one's original lifestyle, customs, culture, language, and the like. All immigrants are expected to assimilate into the mainstream society, and the sooner they do, the more quickly they will be accepted.

Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, most of the immigrants coming to the United States were from European countries, but today most of them are from Latin America and Asia. At the present time, therefore, the United States is more ethnically and culturally diverse than at any other time in its history. And with the projected continuation of this immigration pattern, U.S. society should become even more diverse. The needs of the various ethnic groups differ as well, as should the social worker's role in working with them.

The chapters in this book discuss demographic data, the history of immigration, and the characteristics of various cultures, their methods of coping and adaptation, and their social welfare needs. Each chapter describes a specific geographical region, but there also are substantial differences among the groups in this region. For example, there are noteworthy differences between East Asians and South Asians. Similarly, Mexican Americans differ from other Latinos. Moreover, because of the close proximity of and the historical flow of farm workers between Mexico and the United States, undocumented Mexican immi-

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