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301 November 5, 2008 Immigrant integration and incorporation in the Triad
I. Tell me a little about yourself R. Umm. I am very happy where I’m. I work for Guilford county school as an interpreter or translator which I love. Because I know what the families are going through because of the language varies. And so I am a mom with two beautiful girls and my husband is also from Cuba. I. How old are you? R. I am 32 years old. I. Where are you from? R. I am from Cuba I. How long have you lived in the area? R. Umm I have been living in this area every since I came. We came to Greensboro straight from Cuba. And we decided to stay here because we like it. I. Are you an immigrant? R. Yes I. When did you come here? R. Umm I have been living here for eleven years. I. With whom did you come?
R. I came here with my husband and one of my daughters. She was little. I. What was the initial reason you came here? R. We came as a political refugee. Umm and my husband was in prison In Cuba and that is why we came here.
I. Why Greensboro? R. We came to Greensboro through Luther and Family Services. That was an institution umm that helped sponsor my family and they are located in Greensboro. That is why umm we came to Greensboro. We knew from Cuba that they Luther and Family were going to sponsor us to Greensboro. I. In what ways do you work with immigration or migrants? R. Hmm. I work with immigrant at Peck Elementary school. They are all immigrant with different reasons why they came here. And I work basically with the parents and the teachers. I. How long have you done this? R. I have been a translator for nine years. I. Why did you decide to do this? R. Because I love working with children, parent, and teachers. I. What other things have you done with immigration or migrants? R. Umm. I have worked with Luther and Family Service. They are the one that sponsor my family to Greensboro. I have work as case worker and umm to make sure that the immigrants I work with are being taking care of. When they first come, we provide health benefit. And also provide a place to live.
I. What is the ethnic/national makeup of your organization? R. It’s made up of Spanish interpreters, Asian (Chinese, Korean, etc) I. Tell me about the immigrants you work with. R. Spanish. Umm I work with Asian too but I mostly work with Spanish speakers from Colombia and Cuba. I. What are their major concerns or issues? R. Umm the major concerns are that sometime we don’t have enough resources. I. What are the differing needs of immigrants based on their country of origin? R. It doesn’t matter where they are from because they will always need something. Everybody is in different situation when they come but they still have to eat, clothes themselves, and find a job. I. What are the most difficult issues you face working with migrants? R. (Paused). Umm I guess it’s the language. Because I really want to help as much as I can but just because I speak Spanish, I can’t communicate with children and parents as I really would love to. At time family would come to me asking for help and I can’t help them. I. Do you collaborate with others working on issues regarding immigration? R. Yes I. If so, how? R. We communicate to make sure that the immigrants have what they need by working with social services and helping find jobs and Medicare.
I. What services are there specifically for immigrants in Greensboro? R. There is several known non-profit organization like Luther and Family services umm and I guess social security services. I. What are the barriers to proving services? R. (Paused) the language. I. Do migrants know about these services? R. The case worker usually informs the migrants about jobs, resources, and other services. The case worker tries to help the migrants find a job. I. What can be done to increase services to migrants? R. (Paused). We need more people working together (giggles). More resources I. Does your organization provide any of these services? R. Yes they do. They have immigration department, housing department, and other services. I. What services are there specifically for immigrant children? R. Umm specifically for immigrant children. Umm I don’t think there is anything specifically for them because anybody can have access to social services I. To your knowledge, do the schools offer services to make it less difficult for children? R. Hmm yeah. They provide interpreters and school social workers. I. How does being an immigrant child differ from adult immigrants?
R. I guess a child really adjust easily to a new environment than adult immigrants. Umm and adult, it’s harder because they are adult. They have lived longer in their country and the languages might be different from their native language. And it’s just harder to adjust to a new environment. And kids are very good being in a new situation or environment. I. Should services be focused on immigrant self-sufficiency? R. I think so. And umm we try to get the resources that they need and so that they can focus on themselves because being self-sufficiency is part of the job to help of providing the services for the migrants to make life in a new environment easily. I. What are the barriers to becoming self‐sufficient? R. The language and communication is the barriers to becoming selfsufficient. If the migrant can speak English and can understand, communication with others will be easy which will enable them to be selfsufficient. I. How should agencies go about promoting self-sufficiency? R. I guess that is why they don’t have enough resources (giggles) because the agencies want the migrants to be self-sufficiency. And they umm want to umm find ways to resolve things in different situations. I. How long does it take for immigrants and refugees to become self sufficient in the United State? R. According to the agencies, it takes about two years to three years. Umm but I think it takes less than that. Usually the agencies try to find them a job within the first year. Umm the agencies have to make sure that the immigrants find jobs and all that. Umm and after that they will still get support but not the same support if they didn’t have a job because the goal is to find them a job and become self-sufficient.
I. How does documentation (visa/ no visa, resident/citizen) play a role in service provision? R. Immigration department deal with that situation. It takes a long time. You need to have all the document requires to have services. To migrant into this country, you need to have all the proper documents. And in the agencies, there are immigrations department and that is the department that will let you know all the documents that you need. I. In your opinion, should agencies have restrictions on the basis of documentation? R. Umm (long pause) yeah. We the migrants goes to those agencies or institutions, they will have what they need. You know what I mean. If they don’t have the proper document they could take, they might have secondary document that they could take. So it depends of the program the migrant might be applying for that is another thing. In social services, there are different programs and umm they have the things needed or required to apply for each programs. And before they come to this country, they have to make sure from the immigration department that they have all the required documents. I. What do you believe is the hardest part of adjusting to American society? R. (Long pause), I think the language is the hardest part of adjusting to American society. If you are not able to communicate, then you are more likely to find it difficult adjusting to American society. I. Is language the most important barrier? R. Yes I. What is being done to assist with the language barrier for immigrants who are new to the area?
R. Umm (paused) I guess providing more interpreters. I. Does your agency have interpreters? R. Yes I. Do you think Greensboro is a culturally diverse place? R. Yes that is you’re my family and I love it over here.
I. In your opinion, does the increasing number of immigrants to Greensboro present any problems? R. (giggles). We all present problems. Only language barriers present a major problem which makes communication very difficult. If you come with a goal and a mind set of ready learn, work, and be self-sufficient, then there will be no problem living in Greensboro. I. What are some of the ways your organization has helped the community become more aware of immigrants? R. Umm we help families and people bring things to the migrants. I. How successful have you been? R. I think I have been very successful (laughed). Some people take a long time to learn but I feel like I learned a lot in a short amount of time. I. How do you measure successes and failures? R. I guess goals that you set in life. And when you reach them, it is success and failure when you don’t reach them. I. In your opinion how do most people in the community feel about the foreign born population?
R. (paused). I guess it might be new to them. And I guess they will adjust to it because the communities are growing. I. Are they open to immigrants living in their communities? R. Yes. I. What are the major differences between the large cities in the US as compared to the triad area in their reception of migrants? R. Large cities are more diverse with people from different nations and ethnics because most immigrant main goal is to find a job. Umm but I believe that the triad is good for family.
I. Are immigrants ever discriminated against? R. (paused) I believed there might be some kind of discrimination. I. In what ways? R. everybody is different and some people don’t take things the same way. But I don’t really think there discrimination toward the immigrants. As long as you are qualified for a job, you have equal opportunity to get that job. I. Do you have any concluding remarks about immigrant incorporation into the Triad or anything else related to what we have discussed? R. If you work hard and set goal, then you are able to be successful. I. Thank you R. Thank you