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May 11, 2023

Week 7
Forensic Social Work and Immigration
It is noteworthy that some immigrant groups, such as refugees (or asylees), are particularly vulnerable to poor economic integration and other social struggles. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security explains that refugees are persons who seek residence in the United States to avoid persecution in their country of origin. In other words, unlike voluntary immigrants, refugees are often forced to flee their home countries to escape political persecution or oppression due to their ethnicity, nationality, religion, or political opinions. As a result of abuse in their homeland and the violence and torture previously experienced, they often suffer high levels of physical and mental trauma, with a higher incidence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in later life. For example, migrating to different countries can be dangerous and violent, especially if immigrants enter countries illegally. In addition to the violence-related stress, immigrants may become separated from their primary support system, culture, and way of living.


Moreover, unlike other immigrants who may take purposeful steps before migration to ensure successful assimilation (e.g., learning English), refugees often come to the U.S. with little preparation. Thus, they are more likely than other immigrants to experience family separation with fewer financial resources, weaker social capital, and less training to engage in the current technological job market. Due to these harsh conditions, along with cultural differences and prejudice in a host society, refugees’ economic integration is far more challenging.

Unauthorized immigrants who arrive and stay without proper documentation are another immigrant group at elevated risk. They appear to do worse in the indicators of economic integration than legal immigrants. Unemployment rates of unauthorized immigrants are slightly higher than those for legal immigrants, and unemployed unauthorized immigrants report their lack of legal status as the primary barrier to employment.

The poverty rates of unauthorized immigrants (32 percent in poverty; 62 percent in near poverty) are much higher than those of their legal counterparts, and their children also suffer from a higher incidence of poverty. Experiences with illegal immigration (e.g., dangerous border crossings or victimization by smugglers) and the fear of deportation may adversely affect immigrants’ mental health, such as depression or PTSD. These problems typically remain undiagnosed and untreated since most of the unauthorized immigrants (nearly 70 percent) are uninsured. Nevertheless, due to the eligibility criteria of public assistance programs, illegal immigrants rarely utilize such benefits, even though they have higher needs and often pay taxes.


The dimensions of diversity are understood as the intersectionality of multiple factors including but not limited to age, class, color, culture, disability and ability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, immigration status, marital status, political ideology, race, religion/spirituality, sex, sexual orientation, and tribal sovereign status. This week’s assignment requires you to envision that you have been contacted by a local school to present a seminar for refugees.

Your seminar should be entitled “Refugee Training Seminar.” In this seminar, provide tips for refugees that reflect the latest research findings on promoting acculturation for refugees that are struggling to navigate America’s apprenticeship system.

The seminar should also include content related to understanding the global interconnections of oppression and human rights violations, and theories of human need and social justice and strategies to promote social and economic justice and human rights.

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