When is an Immigrant a Good Immigrant?
Seen And Unseen
they come in droves, seen, unseen.
What do we get then?
There are different kinds of charity....
Looking back....and ahead:
That America has thousands of immigrants every year is a given. What defines a good immigrant as compared with a "not so good" immigrant? Here are some specific examples from the past.
When the "Boat People" as they were called were allowed to come to America after fleeing fallen South Vietnam and were joined by other immgrants fleeing to the United States from oppression and dangers around the world, they included not only the Vietnamese, but also Haitians, Czechs, Russians, and others in one of America's largest influx of immigrants since the Irish potato famine.
The "medically needy" refugees were taken under the wings of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) which got them the help they needed, but also treated them significantly differently than some of the other charitable groups working with the other refugee immigrants.
IRC, once the medical problems had been dealt with, worked hard to integrate its refugees successfully into American society by expecting them to work 4-5 hours a day and study English 2-3 hours a day, during which time IRC in return provided basic support.
In some cases that meant that a refugee who was a doctor in Haiti might find himself working at a dry cleaner's for part of the day and then attending an English As A Second Language (ESL) class in the evening, while settling in to a new neighborhood and new way of life for himself and his family.
The IRC system worked. But it didn't work for everyone.
Some immigrants were stubborn, expecially when they heard that other relief agencies and groups didn't have such requirements.
In some of those cases, refugees quickly left IRC sponbsorship and went elsewhere. some went to Utah, where the LDS church's outstanding welfare program seemed "an easier touch." Others went to Utah and California, collecting welfare from the churches in Utah, including Catholic services, and once a month traveling to California to collect welfare there. For a time, some were even receiving one welfare check from Utah and a second monthly check from California!
The difference in the long run between the IRC approach and the more relaxed process of some other charitable groups was striking.
Those who stayed with the IRC program learned English on their part time jobs, and in their ESLclasses. Their case workers kept tabs on them and did everything possible to help them cope with the hurdles of integrating into American life.
In the end, those who had discipline and structure in their integration process did quite well.
On the other hand, those who started their American lives with easy handouts and no structure fared less well.
There are storybook cases on either end of the spectrum. You may have heard them. Here is another: One refugee developed a business "on the side" roasting pig and selling the resulting pork to ready customers in Utah and traveling once a month to California where he drew regular checks from the State of California on an accepted claim that he was severely disabled.
Now that many of the refugees and immigrants from the time of the Boat People are seniors and ready to retire, the immigrants who chose to scam the system or work for pay given them "under the table" are finding that not having worked legally and contributed to Social Security is leaving them where they first chose to be: on their own resources and charity.
Those others who were guided into productive lives with the guidance of the IRC are ready to retire, too. The differences between the two groups could have been predicted, and were.
Those who chose to live by the sweat of their brow, to learn English from their part time jobs and from their ESL classes, and who lived legally within the system that offers the American dream, now treasure their successful American citizenship.
Those who thought the American dream was going to be a gift showered upon them while requiring no personal effort on their part, have found the Americqn dream an illusion. For many of them, their present circumstances are little better than they were when they first arrived.
On the other hand, the children from both groups have had the opportunity to make their own choices. Their lives are also reflecting the choices they have made.
Hands On has some advantages over Handouts....
© 2016 Demas W, Jasper All rights reserved.
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