Marginalization is a social process that significantly limits specific populations in terms of access to personal needs and requirements that are available to the larger society. Women immigrants are a group of individuals who have been ignored due to their mute exclusion from society. Therefore, women immigrants are a diverse population that is marginalized due to the misunderstandings that affect the identification process and negatively affect immigrant women’s day-to-day experiences (Dillon, Ertl, Corp, Babino, & De La Rosa, 2018).
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There are numerous aspects of healthcare that negatively affect these women’s well-being as the government does not have a fully-fledged plan on how to improve the life experiences of immigrant women. There is a need to reduce the struggle to survive among this marginalized group and provide immigrant women with more opportunities to gain access to proper healthcare. The current paper aims to outline the background of immigrant women’s marginalization and discuss crucial aspects of this issue in detail to conclude the paper with a plan of how care providers could overcome the marginalization issue.
Background of the Issue
In 2017, the total number of immigrants across the United States accounted for approximately 7% of the country’s population (Dillon et al., 2018). Women, hinting at the fact that there are many undocumented families with possible mixed immigration status, represent almost half of that immigrant population. Given that the number of immigrants is cumulatively increasing, representation of women immigrants is a national issue that leaves the majority of immigrant women uninsured and deprived of proper health care (Sabri & Granger, 2018).
As Sabri and Granger’s (2018) research also shows, approximately 45% of the female immigrant population is uninsured. The lack of insured immigrant individuals also impacts the number of uninsured immigrant children, even if the family is mixed, and at least one of the parents is a US citizen.
Current changes introduced into the US immigration policy are most likely to contribute to a reasonable decline in the number of illegal immigrants. However, the impact of the policy cannot be predicted at the time. The lack of coverage for women immigrants and their children may lead to increased morbidity, leaving the government responsible for the revised use of Medicaid and other non-cash programs helping immigrants settle down and gain access to the essential services (Dillon et al., 2018). Given the decline in the number of non-documented immigrants, it may be safe to say that the healthy development of the immigrant population is threatened by the strict immigration laws that are negatively affecting women and their children.
This hints at the fact that workforce participation among immigrant women are hindered by both visible and invisible challenges, which may include (but not be limited to) underappreciation, the lack of work-life balance, societal pressure, and other barriers. Limited English proficiency significantly reduces the amount of income for women immigrants as they also get deprived of access to adequate legal status. As Abuelezam and Fontenot (2017) suggest, professional occupations and managerial positions are almost unavailable to women immigrants as they only obtain related positions in approximately 20% of the cases due to critical misrepresentation.
The trend of economic marginalization also continues among that 20 % of women immigrants who were able to attain a managerial position as they do not receive a respectable wage that would respond to the basic needs of women immigrant population. This forces immigrant women to pick transportation and production jobs that are known for smaller wages, lack of respect for the labor, and inadequate employment requirements (Vu, Azmat, Radejko, & Padela, 2016). Compared to the US-born women, their immigrant counterparts have to pass on office, and administrative support jobs as the majority of them are taken by the local women who might not even have the required qualifications except for being a US citizen.
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Social Justice Issues
As a social justice phenomenon, women immigrants are having issues that are related to the post-immigration stage, primarily due to the lack of understanding from the local population and their ultimate reluctance to helping the immigrants to settle. Social justice aspects, therefore, determine the future health trends and cultural identity of women immigrants because the US society responds to the issue of immigrant marginalization in a variety of ways that range from positive to entirely negative (Goodman, Vesely, Letiecq, & Cleaveland, 2017). For instance, women immigrants could be deprived of certain services or stigmatized owing to the cultural stereotypes and challenges associated with the process of acculturation.
In order to facilitate the process of overcoming challenges presented above, immigrant women have to improve their social position by building a unique social network, which they could use for social support and empowerment (Goodman et al., 2017). The biggest disadvantages immigrant women may experience due to racism, victimization, and the unwillingness of the local population to approve of the given immigrant’s socioeconomic status. Social justice may also relate to miscommunication, the lack of structural support for immigrants, and psychological barriers affecting women immigrants both mentally and physically, leaving them marginalized.
Since the updated regulations on immigration, the US experienced the advent of several ethical issues related to the marginalization of women immigrants. First of all, it is the threat of detention, which is ultimately affecting women with children the most (Vu et al., 2016). On the other hand, if a person is undocumented, they will have to find a solution to the issue of receiving high-quality care despite being illegitimate.
For immigrant women, this raises the concern of how they could evade harmful consequences despite being marginalized and deprived of proper healthcare. Therefore, immigrant women are continually putting in danger those care providers who choose to help them, as care delivery to immigrants is illegal (Goodman et al., 2017). There are practically no workarounds for these ethical issues as the majority of immigrant women are too afraid to uncover their existence to the government. It ultimately generates avoidance and unnecessary health issues that are more complicated due to the avoidance and marginalization.
A Brief Plan to Address Marginalization
Educate the Community
The first step would be to provide the community with all the required information in order to promote an understanding of how immigrant women are marginalized and why they need assistance in the first place. This would help reduce the prevalence of negative stereotypes and create a positive environment where income, creed, and gender would not shape interpersonal relationships. This will be the first step as it may attract more individuals to the problem of women immigrants marginalization and lead to the development of volunteer groups.
Foster Effective Partnerships
The second step would be care providers developing partnerships with the given marginalized population, allowing immigrant women to have a voice and let the community know of the issues that they encounter when trying to access health care. This relationship would become beneficial to both care providers and women immigrants as they will increase awareness regarding marginalized populations and start working on the renewed care provision strategies together. Patient-provider collaboration would reduce the occurrence of misinformation, promote accountability across different organizations, and give the marginalized population a chance to speak out.
Create Support Groups
The last step would be to create support groups for the marginalized population to gain more insight into their view of healthcare and how it should be provided to patients with specific needs. By including women immigrants into the discussion, care providers are going to ensure that there is a support system for a specific marginalized population that does not interfere with the process of providing care to the US-based families. These support groups would also serve as a source of counseling assistance for women immigrants who are suffering from different aspects of marginalization (such as racism, for instance) the most.
The marginalization of women immigrants is an articulated issue across the United States that has been amplified by the decisions that turned the immigration policy into a strict action plan with no workarounds and backdoors. The current paper outlined the statistics on women immigrants, showing that the issue is rather prevalent due to multiple aspects – economic, social, and ethical – depriving the marginalized population of proper access to healthcare. In order to overcome these challenges, the author of the current paper proposes to introduce educational programs for the community, foster interprofessional and interpersonal partnerships, and continuously build support groups to protect women immigrants from racism and misunderstanding.
Abuelezam, N. N., & Fontenot, H. B. (2017). Depression among Arab American and Arab immigrant women in the United States. Nursing for Women’s Health, 21(5), 395-399.
Dillon, F. R., Ertl, M. M., Corp, D. A., Babino, R., & De La Rosa, M. (2018). Latina young adults’ use of health care during initial months in the United States. Health Care for Women International, 39(3), 343-359.
Goodman, R. D., Vesely, C. K., Letiecq, B., & Cleaveland, C. L. (2017). Trauma and resilience among refugee and undocumented immigrant women. Journal of Counseling & Development, 95(3), 309-321.
Sabri, B., & Granger, D. A. (2018). Gender-based violence and trauma in marginalized populations of women: Role of biological embedding and toxic stress. Health Care for Women International, 39(9), 1038-1055.
Vu, M., Azmat, A., Radejko, T., & Padela, A. I. (2016). Predictors of delayed healthcare seeking among American Muslim women. Journal of Women’s Health, 25(6), 586-593.