As much as schools serve students and families new to the United States, community plays an equally vital role. What obstacles do communities and new immigrants face as they first interact? What services or programs should be made available to immigrants? How can community members help in this process?

Below are some challenges faced by communities in reference to immigrants – see what you can do to help assist the immigrants in your community.  

Challenges:

  • Not enough ESL (English as a Second Language) programs and classes available to facilitate the overwhelming demand for those eager to learn the English language.*.
  • Not enough facilities to house classes or enough instructors to teach the English language to new-comers.*.
  • Absolutely no federal, state, or local organization exists that can meet all the needs of new immigrants. Multiple organizations must coordinate and communicate with one another in order to meet the needs. This is loaded with problems. Creating such an organization would be both time and energy consuming, albeit extremely beneficial.*.
  • Centralized information for new immigrants is also difficult. With technology so utilized in America, it is surprising that there is not a “go-to” place where basic information is made available. This makes assisting new immigrants difficult.*.
  • Outreach to new immigrants is a challenge, as there is no set way to introduce new immigrants to their communities.*.
  •  Additionally, funding issues offer constraint to providing services to new immigrants.*

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Ways to help:

  • Reach out to your neighbors. Socialize. Share information. Be helpful..
  • Consider volunteering in an organization that assists new immigrants..
  • Check out your local community education chapter. Is there anything there that you could assist with or volunteer to do?.
  • Connect with your church. Who is new to your church or place of worship, or to your community? Find out what your church  or place of worship can do to help..
  • Visit those new to the community. Do you see people moving in? Take the time to talk to them..
  •  Learn about the programs available in your area that assist new immigrants..

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*Helping Immigrants Become New Americans: Communities Discuss the Issues. (2004, September). Retrieved 5 4, 2012, from www.uscis.gov: http://www.uscis.gov/files/article/focusgroup.pdf