Cultural and Linguistic Challenges Faced by Immigrants in Tennessee

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Goen, Jordan
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University Honors College, Middle Tennessee State University
The United States of America is a nation that finds its roots in immigration. All citizens, other than the Native Americans, either migrated to this nation or are descendants of immigrants. Since the beginning of this nation, over 55 million immigrants have moved to America (“The Rights of Immigrants – ACLU Position Paper,” n.d.). However, despite this theme of cultural assimilation that is woven into our nation’s identity, immigration remains a sensitive subject. Many of the fears and prejudices associated with this issue, however, are based upon falsehoods, misunderstandings, and myths. These false ideas cause large, unfair disparities in American society that, in turn, result in the marginalization of any person who is different or non-English speaking. This project studies the linguistic and cultural barriers faced by immigrants and refugees in Tennessee. By reviewing various policy documents, I will conduct an evaluative review to investigate the discrepancies between the realities of how immigrants and refugees are supposed to be treated, according to policy, and their actual daily lives. The focus on linguistic and cultural challenges takes place in three specific areas: education, health care, and the judicial system. Though linguistic and cultural challenges can be found in almost all aspects of an immigrant’s or refugee’s life, I focus only on what I consider crucial domains that relate to some of the basic human rights. Each section gives an overview of national policy, and then moves down to the state level.
immigrant, refugee, linguistic rights, interpreter, education, health care, judicial system