The Importance Of Cultural Integration Essay Samples
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According to statistics, the population of immigrants to the United States, including that of their U.S born children reached an approximately 80 million individuals, a number that represents almost a quarter of the county’s population. This fact superimposes the character of the U.S being the “melting pot” of diverse cultures. The notion of preserving their culture is important among immigrants as it is the one of the few means by which they can connect with what they left behind. However, as they assimilate with the entire U.S population, it became important that they integrate with the culture of this host country. Cultural integration gives a multiple of benefits to the immigrants to successfully adjust with the American way of life, as well as it plays an important role in their becoming a participant in the social and economic development of their community and the host country as a whole.
Integration into the American Way of Life
What does it mean to be integrated into the American way of life? When an individual choose to immigrate and finally settle in the United States little is left of them or their families than to finally embrace the American culture. While it is a natural instinct to preserve the culture that they grew up to from their country of origin, it is also important to finally integrate into the culture of the host country.
Anti-immigrants groups strongly argued that immigration has been wearing away the cultural ideals of the United States, associating this claim to the notion that the immigrants of today do not understand the unifying values that make the U.S culture. The groups who are against immigration asserts that the current immigrants “are not assimilating in a timely manner like past immigrants did, because they are not like past immigrants” (Political, 2002). The sentiment of the anti-immigrants groups are associated to the fact that some immigrants have strongly kept their culture and resisted being assimilated into the American culture. In addition to that, it was argued that most immigrants have little or no loyalty to the United States by maintaining dual citizenships and some of them live in ethnic enclaves, which is perceived as a an act of not wanting to integrate into the American society.
Ethnic Enclaves and Immigration
There are varied reasons, however, why most immigrants form ethnic enclaves. Upon their arrival into the American soil, immigrants are often faced with social problems such as discrimination, inability to immediately secure a job, in addition to the difficulty in assimilating into the new environment. They find comfort by forming their own ethnic enclaves, where immigrants maintain a manner of living that is different from those of the society outside the enclave. “Ethnic enclaves are usually urban areas, within which culturally distinct minority communities maintain ways of life largely separate from those of the generally larger communities that surround them” (Rudolph, 2011). While these enclaves have often helped newly arrived immigrants into gradually integrating into the American mainstream, it has in some way delayed the assimilation process and is sometimes viewed by some critics as an act of refusal to become a part of the American society.
Adjusting to America
People who planned to immigrate and settle in the United States initially have great expectations on what the land of opportunities may offer. However, arriving into a new country can be daunting and can take its toll even to someone who has earned a good credential from their country of origin. According to Oliva Espin, a psychology professor, it would be difficult for someone who just arrived to a certain country to maintain the same status from where they came due to language and custom barriers (Smith, 2002). There are many high paid professionals from their home country who took low-paying jobs upon their entrance in the United States due to lack of certification (Smith, 2002). It is also stressful for some of these people to be labelled as minorities since they have been the majority from their place of origin.
Adjustment into the American way of life can also takes its toll in families. While parents often have difficulty coping, their children fare better in learning and assimilating into the new society. These often lead to conflict on parent and child relationships, as the set of cultural values in American is way different from the ethnic values of the immigrants. The difference in culture, in addition to the limited time for family interaction leads to gaps between parents and their children.
Despite the accessibility of basic health care in the United States, this basic necessity is among the most overlooked needs among immigrants in this country. Research revealed that a considerable disparity in health care is prevalent among different racial and ethnic groups in the U.S., for instance “Hispanic women are less likely to get mammograms and Asian and Hispanic women are less likely to get Pas smears (Bell, 2004). The lack of access to preventive medicine may be attributed to the inability of immigrant culture to easily blend well into the new society. This can be observed on how some culture view certain diseases according to their culture. Some foreign born individuals prefer not to consult a doctor due to their belief that their illness can be cured by traditional treatments other than proper medical cures.
Poor health literacy is also among the factors that contribute to the lack of medical attention given to immigrants. While the medical community increased their effort to reach out and attend to the medical needs of immigrants, the issue on low health literacy hinders the access of immigrants to proper medical attention. This trend is commonly observed among poorly educated and non-English speakers as these immigrants find it difficult to understand and communicate medical facts. More ever, their inability to communicate well in the English language deters them from further seeking medical attention. Language barriers between a patient and a doctor make the former unlikely to make a follow up check up on his medicals status.
The effort on the part of the immigrants to cross the barrier and assimilate with the culture of the host country aids in the ease of access for their medical assistance. There are various government projects that are made to address the problem on health care among immigrants. For instance, the government offered incentives to employers in order for them to provide for the health insurance benefits of their immigrant employees. The Expansion of publicly funded health programs is also among the programs adopted by the state to meet the medical needs of immigrant workers and their families. Translation of medical services is also given for by the government in support of some immigrants who have difficulty speaking and understanding the English language (Bell, 2004).
Education and Integration
Schools in the United States today are faced with several challenges as it is confronted with the increase of immigrants from diverse cultures around the world. With over half a million documented immigrants annually; the country is faced with a dilemma on how best to address the integration of the new settlers. “The U.S has no national agency or department dedicated to the integration of immigrants, and few polices are framed with newcomers in mind” (Fix & Capps, 2005). Access to education is one of the policies that can help migrant families especially their children to assimilate well with the American culture. In contrast to the laissez faire attitude towards integration, an educational reform was made to address the needs of the children of immigrants to learn the English language proficiently. Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals accounted to more that 9 percent of the inhabitants in the United States, and large number of these migrants added to the concerns of communication barriers across the different states of the nation.
In order to address the communication barrier, the No Child Left Behind Act was passed and required teachers and schools to attend to the learning needs of immigrant students (Fix and Capps, 2005). The need for the parents to participate in the learning of their children is vital in this program as learning institutions are obligated to notify parents (in their native language), of the progress of their child in the academe.
The Labor Market as a Means of Integration
The continuous increase in the number of immigrants and their families in the United States is an indication that the labor market is one of the prevalent integration measures available to them. An individual’s integration into the labor force is highly dependent on his or her educational credentials, skills, proficiency in the English language and the route by which they reached the United States. More often, however, immigrants, even those who have higher educational attainments and skill proficiencies find it difficult to immediately land a job due to diverse barriers such as lack of proficiency in the English language. Despite the fact that not all high paying jobs require English proficiency, such as the employment of immigrant chemists and mathematicians, it remains that limited English proficiency greatly affects the economic integration of new settlers. Women immigrants, on the other hand, may have to face other barriers such as the lack of access to child care, prohibiting them to join the labor force.
Immigrants are not only faced with the barriers of joining the labor force, in many cases, they are confronted with the truth that most immigrants are employed in jobs with lesser benefits and lower paying jobs. “Twenty percent of low-wage workers are immigrants” (One, 2015), even individuals who have acquired sufficient education and experience in their own country are compelled to work in low-paying jobs upon arrival in the United States.
The United States, however, remain to accommodate as many immigrants into the labor stream, it has “historically offered unparalleled economic opportunity to successive generations of immigrants and their children” ( Terrazas, 2011). The integration of immigrants into the United States has been made by families who have arrived ahead, employers looking for lower labor costs, schools as well as churches. The communication barrier however, is being slowly decreased as proven by the two-thirds of LEP who migrated to the U.S from year 2000 to 2009, compared to that of the one-thirds LEP of immigrants during the 1970s. Research also revealed that immigrants were able to upgrade their educational and skills level to match that of the middle skill jobs ( Terrazas, 2015).
Integration of Immigrants
The integration of immigrants into the American society has provided a favour for both the immigrant and the host country. It gave opportunity to the former in the form of jobs and higher wages compared to that of the available chances in their home country. Though most parents who came for greener pastures have to contend with lower paying jobs in the market, it inspires their children and younger generation of migrants to get the education and skill needed to have a better chances and opportunities (Martin, n.d). More ever, in the U.S setting, there is an association among lower paid workers that starting with hard work and lower paying jobs open better chances in climbing higher payer jobs. Employers on the other hand are able to get access to labor at lower costs. It was economically anticipated that the increase in foreign workers have an impact in lowering wages and increasing the economic output (Martin, n.d)
Basing on statistical patterns, most immigrants who came to work in the United States preferred to retain their nationality. However, better opportunities and benefits accorded to American citizens increased the numbers of immigrants who opted to become naturalized American citizens. Naturalization is among some of the means by which an immigrant accepts their integration into the American way of life. Opting to become a naturalized citizen is an act of patriotism and a demonstration of one’s pledge to the new country. Integrating with the American culture through naturalization gives one the many opportunities available to a citizen of the United State such as the right to vote, becoming eligible to more jobs and even to be voted as a public official.
The influx of immigrants from all over the world started even during the earlier part of the 19th century largely because of the availability of diverse opportunities in the United States. Today, the economic prospect entices individuals from different parts of the world to immigrate to this country. Immigrants, however, are faced with dilemmas upon their arrival to this foreign soil. As immigrants, they are confronted with the need to adapt with the American culture despite their want to retain the culture of their origin.
Some of them, in their want to preserve their culture found comfort in the ethnic enclaves. They, however, have to gradually come out and integrate with the society. While most of them have to contend with lower paying jobs, they feel a sense of contentment in knowing that they have paved the way for a better life for their children. In addition to that, many immigrants became beneficiaries of a number of government programs that aimed to improve their way of living. For instance, health care and insurance are being sponsored by the government to provide the immigrants access to health care programs in addition to incentives that are given to employers who provide insurance benefits to their employees. School programs are also planned with consideration of the immigrants who have limited proficiency in the English language. It is the utmost concern of most educators to impart and make the immigrants, especially their children become proficient in this language. Integration through the labor market is among the most common means by which the immigrants assimilate into American culture. The welcoming soil of America is indeed open to all who wanted to partake of the opportunities it has to offer. AS George Washington said, “The bosom of American is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions” (cited at Martin, n.d).
Bell, M., 2004 Immigrants’ Access to Quality Health Care. The Council of State Governments. Retrieved from www.csg.org
Fix, M., Capps, R., 2005. Immigrant children, Urban Schools and the No Child Left Behind Act. Migration Policy Institute. Retrieved from http://www.migrationpolicy.org
Martin, P., n.d. KMI Working Paper Series. Immigration and Integration: The US Experience and Lessons for Europe. Retrieved from www.oeaw.ac.at
One America. n.d Immigration Integration In-depth. Retrieved from www.weareoneamerica.org
Political Research Associates, 2002. Immigration and Racial, Ethnic and Cultural diversity. Retrieved from www.pulliceye.org
Rudopl, J. 2011. Ethnic Enclaves. Immigration in America. Retrieved from immigrationinamerica.org
Smith, D. 2002. Psychology Around the World. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from www.apa.org
Terrazas, A. 2011. The Economic Integration of Immigrants in the United States. Retrieved from http://www.migrationpolicy.org
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