The intention in sharing this story is not to diminish the unfavorable situation of those who were born outside the borders of this great country. I do still think, despite the attempts of this administration of fundamental transformation, America to be the greatest country. It undoubtedly offers the most freedom for its citizens, but it is the plight of its citizens that troubles me deeply.
I am a nurse, and have recently been working at a hospital in a rural area. What I have noticed are the many patients we treat who do not speak English. Instead, Spanish, Farsi, Dari, Bengali, Bhutanese, Russian, French, Swahili, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Laotian, Arabic, and Slavic are the languages spoken by some of these patients. The procedural unit in which I work requires the patient to have a driver. More times than not their driver speaks very little English which necessitates the need to use dual phones for translation. There are onsite hospital translators for several languages but, as you can imagine, it takes time to coordinate. In a unit that is driven to see as many patients in as safe a manner possible, this adds extra time and stress to those prepping the patient for the procedure. This is true too in recovery, not to mention the problem of communication in the procedural area where there are no translators.
For now, I will put the language barrier problem to the side because I want to share a story. I was prepping a patient one day who happened to be an in-patient, not one who simply walks in for a procedure at the hospital, but one who has been admitted to a room. The patient, a woman around 50 years old, could not speak a word of English and needed a procedure. Her daughter of around 20 years old accompanied her. The daughter spoke broken English and was nicely dressed. As I waited for the translator phones I simply asked for some background information as to where they were from and what brought them here.
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As it turns out, they were from a landlocked country in South Asia. The daughter had been in this small town for 3 years, attended the local community college, and took care of her baby. She could not tell me what she was studying. When I asked her she just replied with “nothing”, and then giggled. Her mother and father had been in the US for about 6 months. When asked if either was working, she said no. I asked her who was responsible for bringing them all here, her reply, “IOM”. After getting home from work that night I looked up IOM, it stands for International Organization for Migration, and is linked with the United Nations (UN), The Department of International Cooperation and Partnerships (ICP), and the United States Association for International Migration (USAIM).
I left the room that day struggling with this scenario. For starters, what must it be like to be from a country that has little to no opportunity and you are placed in camps like herded cattle and flown off to some foreign country where you don’t know the language; but more than that I thought, who is paying for all this woman’s healthcare? Why do I feel compelled to work to provide healthcare for myself and family, but this lady can be flown into my country, not work, and have her whole family taken care of with food, shelter, college, and healthcare.
I considered this story as I stopped to visit a friend of mine the other night. She is a fellow nurse who is battling cancer. She and her husband have worked hard their whole lives in order to buy their home, raise two children, and put them through college. They are now having to stress over bills they must pay for her treatment. She shared with me that applying for assistance is getting them nowhere because they make over $30K a year. So they will be penalized for working and being responsible.
There is something wrong with this picture…desperately wrong.
Meanwhile, on January 22nd 2015, at the World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland, IOM Director General William Lacy Swing took part in a live debate, “Escaping from Poverty”. An interesting quote from the Ambassador:
“Migrants today are not invaders, or interlopers. Being youthful, often just starting their work lives, migrants serve as vital partners of the native born. They fill gaps in industries where labour is in short supply; they renew decaying neighborhoods and they shore up public payments to the elderly and unemployed by putting into government coffers much more wealth than they withdraw.”1
Really? On what planet is this man living on?
At what point do we as a country need to take care of our own team? I have read evidence and talked to experts who agree that we have fifty border states, and they are indeed porous. We also have a spigot turned wide open in the “legal migration” department. In addition to IOM, we have the Refugee Resettlement Program run by the Department of Health and Human Services.
In November 2014, President Obama created a White House Task Force on New Americans by a Presidential Memorandum – Creating Welcoming Communities and Fully Integrating Immigrants and Refugees.
New Americans? I didn’t realize you became an American until you went through the naturalization process and passed the tests. Just because you physically are here doesn’t mean you are an American, and should be entitled to all the blessings of tax payer dollars. Also, full integration can not be done without learning English.
In my line of work, if you have a patient with cirrhosis of the liver, you don’t tell him/her to go home and down some alcohol. Our great country is sick, and if we don’t start demanding some change for the health of America, we will lose her. Maybe you could let your voice be heard, while you still have that freedom to do so, by contacting your local representatives to find out about how many immigrants and migrators are headed to your area.