Shaping Immigrant Experience
Moving from their native countries, immigrants hope that their new found home will offer them the comfort they long for. Whether their dreams come true or remain just a mirage is influenced by a number of factors. Major factors that shape their experience are beyond their control as these are dictated by situations they find in whichever country they move into. Public policy is a major factor that influences and determines what kind of a life that immigrants are likely to face. The public policy incorporates all policies made by the state and other nonstate organs. It is, for example, the public policy associated with providing work permits for noncitizen members that determine how long an immigrant remains unemployed. Other public policy issues that affect immigrants are those associated with where immigrants are supposed to put up as the residence. In most cases (especially in the United States and the United Kingdom), immigrants find themselves putting up in low-quality houses (Wheeler 44).
More often than not, these immigrants are finding themselves living in the same neighborhood with those of their ethnic groups. Apart from labor and choice of neighborhood issues, public policy also determines the immigrants' long-term residence and political issues. How much time an immigrant lives as such before attaining citizenship status is determined by public policy. In some countries, it takes more than 5 years for an immigrant to become a citizen while in others it takes as less as six months. In addition to these issues, policies formulated by state organs verify political rights of immigrants. In most cases, immigrants do not have voting rights until they have become full citizens. What the public policies mean is that immigrants do not have much of a say. It is the host government to decide what kind of life one is to lead until such a time when one acquires full citizenship (47). Immigrants do have voting rights and this means that they cannot define their own destiny; they have it defined for them.
Apart from public policy, there is yet another factor that largely influences immigrants' experience. This is the culture of the host country. Culture may simply refer to all that people do in order to achieve self-fulfillment. This ranges from the food people eat, religion, language, etiquette and so on. Of most importance here is religion and language. They are lucky those who move into another region and find people speaking in their own language and practicing the same religion. However, this is rarely the case. For example, most immigrants to America and Europe are of African, Chinese and Hispanic origins. Both in America and Europe, English is the most dominant language and so any newcomer has to learn this language. Finding work thus becomes a difficult task for those who cannot speak this language. School going children are essentially worst hit be language problems. At school, these children find it almost impossible to keep pace with other children. At first, they report poor academic grades and their self-esteem gets badly affected. By the time they learn foreign languages, immigrant children may have to repeat a number of classes.
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Religion plays an important role in human beings life and so without it, life becomes almost unbearable. While migrating, people always hope that wherever they are going into, they will be allowed to worship freely. Today, there is freedom of worship in most countries. Christian nations tolerate other religions like Islam and Hinduism. However, some Islam states are not very accommodative. A Christian migrating to Saudi Arabia may find it hard to find a church from where they can worship. Some Christians migrating to Islam countries are thus either forced by circumstances to convert or do without religion. A Muslim, on the other hand, may easily find mosques in liberal societies like America and so he or she needs not worry about accessing a place of worship (Wakin 79).
Economic status of a host country also plays a significant role in shaping immigrants' experience (Balkan 18). The most common scenario that immigrants face is that of first settling in ghettos where access to basic human need like clean water, shelter, and education is a challenge. Where immigrants move in groups, they find themselves being lumped together. Literature is replete with evidence showing that up to 15 families may be made to put up in a single house where they are all supposed to share amenities in a ratio that is astonishing. In these kinds of cases, usual family set ups are abandoned. Parents forget the idea of having their own rooms but all family members have to share in common rooms. When people live in this kind of overcrowded and poverty stricken areas some other ills are likely to emerge. One of these ills is the crime. Gangs start springing up and security becomes a matter of concern. As the struggle for survival moves a notch higher, murders become a common occurrence and people start worrying about their lives and forget about their pathetic living conditions (21).
In summary, it must be noted that public policy is a major factor that shapes immigrants experience. Many other subfactors are tied to public policy. For instance, it is public policy play a crucial role in determining how fast immigrants get integrated into their new environment. Moreover, other factors that are tied and influence by the public policy include but not limited to: labor relations, political rights, and long-term residency. Apart from public policy, there are yet other factors that play relevant roles in lives of immigrants. These factors include the immigrants' culture and culture of the host population. Economic factors also play an important role.