"We Are Not Criminals": Social Work Advocacy and Unauthorized Migrants (Report)

By Social Work

  • Release Date - Published: 2010-01-01
  • Book Genre: Social Science
  • Author: Social Work
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"We Are Not Criminals": Social Work Advocacy and Unauthorized Migrants (Report) Social Work read online review & book description:

An estimated 9.3 million unauthorized migrants now work in the United States (Passel, Capps, & Fix, 2004), taking unskilled jobs at low wages and prompting some lawmakers to call for tougher law enforcement or for measures to restrict access to health care and humanitarian assistance (Hancock, 2007). In what follows, I present empirical evidence of efforts by unauthorized Mexican migrants in one suburban town to contest the characterization of their presence as "illegal" or "criminal," negative labels that they believe are hindering their ability to support themselves and their families. This study will inform social work's advocacy on behalf of this population at national, state, and local levels. This examination is crucial for social work in settings in which practitioners will encounter migrants. The terms "illegal immigrant" and "illegal alien" clearly connote criminal status and thus, without scrutiny, could dissuade social workers from understanding the circumstances faced by individuals who enter the United States without authorization (Furman, Langer, Sanchez, & Negi, 2007; Hancock, 2007). Workers who see unauthorized migrants as criminals could feel less empathy for and be disinclined to engage with this population (Furman et al., 2007). Understanding how members of disadvantaged groups perceive themselves, rather than accepting characterizations from popular discourse, is a critical element of culturally competent practice (Lum, 2007).

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