Immigrants must deal with a wide range of issues in order to make the U.S. their new home — and that’s above and beyond the legal issues concerning immigration. Many of them are practical challenges most citizens don’t ever think about.
Global Citizen ranked the top issues that immigrants need to address in order to transition to their new lives away from their homelands.
1. Learning and speaking English
Depending on the location, an immigrant may be able to settle into an area where there’s an existing community of fellow immigrants who speak the same language. That could be a huge help to a family getting started. Depending on how diverse the area is, government agencies may have forms and information available in the person’s native tongue. To increase the chances of economic success and to better adapt to life in the United States, an immigrant should learn English. The Lexington Public Library has information on English as a Second Language (ESL) classes.
2. Raising children
It probably won’t not take long for kids to become “Americanized,” which may conflict with their native culture. Children may be able to speak English better, faster than their parents. It can be hard for parents to see their children struggle in school and in the community at large. Students are normally placed with other children their same age, whether or not they can keep up academically.
A student’s success at school in these situations can rest on how many services the child can get, which may turn on parents being involved and proactive. This can be difficult when they are from a different culture and don’t speak English. A good place to start to look for help for your child may be the Fayette County Public School’s office of Family and Community Engagement.
3. Finding a job and starting a career
It may be relatively easy for an immigrant or refugee to find a low-skill, low-wage job, but progressing to better, higher paying jobs can be a struggle.
- Undocumented immigrants have additional hurdles to face and may be stuck in low paying, “under the table” jobs where workers are paid in cash, perhaps less than minimum wage.
- Highly educated immigrants may not have the proper certifications to obtain similar, higher level work they had in their homeland and need to settle for a less challenging, lower paying work.
- Immigrants can also face discrimination and be threatened with deportation by bosses who want to exploit them.
Kentucky’s Career Center is one resource to help an immigrant find a job.
Depending on the area, safe, affordable housing may be difficult to find. If an immigrant is financially struggling and/or has a large family, housing can be a major problem. Tenants, like employees, can also suffer from exploitation with desperate families accepting substandard housing. The Lexington Housing Authority manages public housing that may be an option for immigrant families.
Whatever practical challenges you and your family face, we have experience helping immigrants find their way in Kentucky. If you live in Kentucky and have questions or concerns about immigration law or are seeking a way to reside in the country legally, call CF Abogados at (859) 971-0060 or fill out the online contact form.
Attorney Kirby J. Fullerton
Mr. Fullerton’s practice is focused on immigration law. He speaks Spanish, and represents clients in cases before the immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals. He began his career practicing criminal defense, and understands how matters in criminal courts can affect a client’s immigration status. [Attorney Bio]