Immigrants and Refugees

Elaine Congress

in Social Work

ISBN: 9780195389678
Published online July 2012 | | DOI:
Immigrants and Refugees

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Because of climate change, natural and manmade disasters, urbanization, and globalization, the number of people migrating around the world is increasing. The United States has the largest number of immigrants, with over forty-two million (UN High Commission for Refugees 2009, cited under United Nations, p. xix). Over 13 percent of the total US population is foreign born, but this total is much higher in urban areas, with numbers approaching 40 percent. These immigrants come from many countries, with the following eight countries in descending order the primary origin for immigrants in the United States: Mexico, China, Philippines, India, Vietnam, Cuba, South Korea, and Canada. Although undocumented immigrants have received the most media attention, the number of legal naturalized immigrants is much larger. There are different legal definitions of naturalized immigrants, undocumented immigrants, and refugees. Under definitions provided by the International Organization for Migration (cited under Governmental and Nongovernmental Organizations), immigrants are those who move to a nation of which they are not nationals, with the intention of permanent settlement. Migrant is a broader term that applies to those who freely choose to move from one country to another for various reasons, often for improved economic opportunities and not necessarily for permanent residency. Undocumented immigrants or irregular migrants are those who have entered a country without the documentation required for legal status. According to the UN High Commission for Refugees (cited under United Nations), an individual is a refugee once he or she has fulfilled the following requirements, as laid out under the 1951 Convention: the individual is outside his or her country of origin or residence and cannot return because of a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, group membership, or political beliefs. In working with immigrants, it is important to look at macro policy and legal issues in regard to immigrants and refugees and micro issues relating to direct service to immigrant individuals, families, and communities. Often, an analysis of premigration, transit, and postmigration experiences is helpful in social work practice with immigrants and refugees (see Pine and Drachman 2005, cited under Women, Families, and Children).

Article.  14310 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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