Deborah Jenkins short essay Page


        Changes in Midwestern Communities, living with migrants.


     The immigrants that are moving into the small Midwestern towns in America not only negatively affect the predominantly white resident societies, but also have negative impact on the non-white immigrants. The adjustment that both cultures must make in order to live in the same communities is difficult. Prejudice makes life for immigrants in these small predominantly white American cities difficult. Some of the issues that are being addressed are the social boundaries that the U.S. residents make for none-residents. This may stem from the lack of knowledge and understanding about other cultures.

     Most immigrants who migrate to these small towns are poor. They have to take low paying jobs because they are not skilled for better jobs and they also have language issues. The jobs do not provide enough income to sustain the households that are sometimes large and the immigrants are forced to apply for government assistance and other welfare forms such as WIC (women, infants and children).

In Iowa one in four families received assistance and the unpaid medical costs doubled in the past ten years. (Cooper 1997)  Is this why medical insurance is so unaffordable for the average person who is unable to receive insurance through their job? Is this why hospital expenses are outrageous, because of their unpaid bills? It is difficult for workers to pay for insurance when they are unable to afford the basic necessities. Wages in the plants are low so that owners may make higher profits.

In Wausau Wisconsin over 60 percent of the Hmong refugees were living on government assistance. The thought from the citizens that the Hmong will stay in a low economic status, could be a burden on the city. (Koltyk 1998)  The residents who pay taxes may feel bitter about supporting these “foreigners”.

 According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform “FAIR” (FAIR issue brief 10/02) over one million immigrants are coming into America every year and they are mostly poor. The cost of immigration by the end of 2002 was around sixty-six billion dollars in a country that can hardly support its native poor. (FAIR 2002) What impact does this have on the state welfare and the people that have to pay for these expenses, the taxpayers?

Most immigrants, who work in the low paying plants, are living in substandard housing because their wages are so low they can not afford anything better. They are segregated in the poorer districts in the cities. They are faced with prejudice and hostility from the local community that gives them the distinct feeling of not being wanted. They are working the jobs that nobody else wants to do and are not bettering their lives for it. (Cooper 1997)  The quality of life may in some ways be better than where they came from, such as making four dollars a day in Mexico versus a seven dollar and hour job in the States, (cooper 1997) but the emotional needs of belonging and being wanted may not be fulfilled.

 Prejudice makes life for immigrants in these small predominantly white American cities difficult. Social boundaries that the U.S. residents make for none-residents are caused from the lack of knowledge and understanding about other cultures. Also, the attitude that the citizens have towards paying welfare benefits for the refugees is just one of the issues that is addressed in this area.

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