More than 40 million immigrants reside currently in the United States, accounting for one fifth of the world’s migrants. The U.S. is therefore home to more immigrants than any other country in the world, Pew Research Center reveals. Immigrants typically face a number of difficulties once they arrive in the U.S. However, you can play a role in helping minimize some of these troubles and help immigrants feel welcome and included in your local community. Acts to support immigrant families can be as simple or involved as you like and can make a huge difference in helping immigrants feel at home in a new land.
Find out what you can do in your local area
Start by getting in contact with your local churches, community centers, and schools. Ask them how you can help immigrants who’ve just arrived in the area. Immigrants typically enter the country after experiencing long journeys and often need encouragement, friendship, and support as they suddenly find themselves in strange new environments. Do what you can to help them feel welcome in your community. Also, once your child’s school starts up, look out for any new students. Be friendly and offer support and assistance.
Provide childcare support
Immigrant parents who come to the U.S. are often on employment-based visas. Immigration law gives immigrants the opportunity to secure H-2A, H-2B, or investor-based visas, for example. As a result, parents can often find it difficult to balance work demands along with childcare — not to mention also finding time to connect with the local community. You can provide vital support to immigrants in this situation by setting up a local childcare group or playgroup. Not only does this provide invaluable help to parents unable to pay for childcare services, but the children will also benefit. Playgroups are a great opportunity for children to improve their social skills and ease the transition into a new school.
For immigrants who only have a limited understanding of the English language or don’t speak it at all, assimilating into a new community becomes even more of a challenge. Being unable to communicate with people as needed results in huge obstacles when trying to start a new life. Fortunately, you can directly help immigrants in the U.S. improve their language skills by volunteering to mentor and tutor English-language learners. For example, look up local community-run charities, organizations, and faith groups that hold English learning groups and rely on volunteers to do so. While such groups aren’t accredited, immigrants greatly benefit from them in order to improve their everyday conversational skills, meet new people, and get involved in the new community.
Doing your part to support immigrants in your local community can help them settle in and feel at home faster. Contacting local institutions, providing childcare support, and volunteering to teach English are some key ways you can build and maintain a close, welcoming, and inclusive community for immigrants.