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According to a recent report from PsychPort, it sounds like recent immigrants who deal with mental illness are finding themselves dealing with deportation and a lack of mental health services.  Recent immigrants also have to deal with the fact that they are not required to stand competency hearings before trial and rarely are able to find lawyers.  Additionally, at the end of the day “judges are forced to go with their gut.”  Because of a variety of factors, mentally ill individuals who are citizens but were foreign born are also suffering deportation.  Finally, due to a strapped system the mental health workers who do work for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are dealing with ratios of 2700 detainees to 1 psychiatrist.

This seems absurd to me.  How do we expect to find out the facts about an immigrants background if they are mentally ill?  It raised a variety of questions as well.  What happens when immigration, criminal justice and social services intersect?  Does the American social service system have a responsibility to provide services for illegal immigrants?  What types of services should be required to ensure humane treatment of detainees?  What questions does this raise for you?

Mentally ill immigrants have little hope for care when detained.  (2009, July 19th)  From  Retrieved July 20th, 2009 from

A recent issue of the Journal of Family Psychology found that Chinese parents are very effective parenting their children after moving to America because they seem to more readily use authoritative parenting styles with their children, as opposed to authoritarian, permissive or neglectful.  Caucasian parents were found to use permissive parenting styles more often, perhaps in an effort increase their childrens’ self-esteem.

The three parenting styles can be described in terms of nurturance and behavioral expectations.
Permissive parents are very nurturing and accepting of their children, but have low behavioral expectations.
Authoritative parents are very nurturing and have high behavioral expectations for their children.
Authoritarian parents are not nurturing, but have high behavioral expectations.
Neglectful parents neither nurture nor set behavioral limits for their children.

Immigrant Chinese parents seem to use Authoritative styles more often.  As one of the consequences of that style, their children seem to demonstrate fewer behavioral issues.

An additional factor is probably a high degree of family loyalty within many Asian family systems.  Behavioral issues reflect poorly on the entire family, and that high degree of cohesiveness may also suppress some behavioral issues before they occur.

American Psychological Association (2009, June 5). Immigrants Overcome Great Odds To Raise Children In Foreign Lands, Say Researchers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 6, 2009, from­ /releases/2009/06/090604113926.htm

A recent study put out by the University of Birmingham found that ethnic minority students that attend complimentary after-school programs, in which more than one language is used for instruction, report higher levels of self esteem and confidence.  For those students, a bilingual identity that stretched beyond the home environment was found to be associated with a more world-wise, modern identity.  Additionally, families of students in such programs report greater satisfaction with the education their children were receive.

I thought this study was interesting because one of the factors that was impressed on me most deeply while I was in school regarding immigrant identity, is that there is a shift between the first, second and third generation.  The first generation often comes interested in preserving the ways of the country they came from.  For instance, they may continue to speak only their first language and learn English only as needed.  The second generation are the first children of immigrants born in America.  They may serve as the families translators and ambassadors to mainstream American culture.  In spite of their role as translators, the expectation may be that they still keep their primary loyalties to their parent’s culture.  The third generation is almost entirely American; the culture of their ancestors is sometimes just that, ancestral.  The realities of an, at times, jingoistic racism are not lost on the third generation of immigrants.  However, their identities are strongly influenced by the American mainstream.

I wonder what effect introducing more complimentary schools with focuses on Hmong and Somali culture would have on gang involvement in the Twin Cities Metro area.  With the influx of Somali and Hmong refugees the area has been enriched by in the past few years, Somali and Hmong gang involvement has unfortunately increased.  If more complimentary school programs were introduced, would that increase cultural identity and serve the need that seems to be fulfilled currently through involvement with gang affiliation?  How would it change or improve first generation immigrants opinions of the American school and social service system?  How could social services use complimentary programs to increase utilization among under-served populations?  What do you think?

Economic & Social Research Council (2009, February 10). Multilingualism Brings Communities Closer Together. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 14, 2009, from­ /releases/2009/02/090210092721.htm

July 2020