Throughout the years, the numbers of immigrants and refugees have continued to climb. In 1970, the United States consisted of 9.6 million immigrants; however, in 2014, the United States consisted of 42.4 million immigrants (Zong, 2016). I think that because of this, we should increase our health care initiatives toward the immigrants and refugees. Now, more than ever there is war after war going on and we need to help out the refugees when they come to our country.
It is very important to understand the Hmong tribe’s cultural, political, and social past because it is what shaped them to what they are today. Just like you should not judge a book by it’s cover, you should not judge the Hmong’s by their actions until you know why they act the way they do. At first, I was very disturbed when Fadiman wrote about the Hmong families burying the placentas in the house; however, once they went on to explain the reasoning and beliefs the people had behind it, the action did not seem as crazy as it sounded (Fadiman, 1997). Just because it is different from my way of life, does not mean that it is weird!
The political history of the Hmong tribe is very important because it explains and leads up to why they became refugees. It also explains why they have come to our country. The proxy wars were wars that were created by the CIA to use Hmong people as guerilla fighters for the Vietnam war. After the war was lost, the Hmong people left to refugee camps in Thailand, like the Lee family, and eventually to the United States (Fadiman, 1997). I think
that the Hmong people, as well as any other person, should receive adequate health care, but since they come from another place, there are some steps that need to be taken a little further.
I think that America has failed health care for Hmong people. Sometimes the treatment goes well, but other times they are worried that the women are going to eat the placenta so they refuse to let them continue with their traditions. I think that we need to turn this around. One way I think we should do that is by having a translator. “Language and cultural barriers fostered misunderstandings on both sides,” reported Diane Marcum in Lia Lee’s obituary (Marcum, 2012). I think that we could reduce some of the cultural and language disparities for refugees and immigrants. Ariel Burgess also wrote, “people of foreign-born background encounter unique barriers when attempting to benefit from health care; these include difficulties in cross-cultural communication, disparate health practice beliefs, and limited cultural awareness on the part of the provider,” (Burgess, 2004). Burgess just reinstates how important having a translator would be. I think that a translator would help out everyone foreign-born, not just the Hmong people. A translator would be a perfect solution to the language barrier problem. It would make the transition for the Hmong refugees a lot smoother.
The Hmong never do anything selfish. I believe that they are here because they know it is not good for them back home. They are refugees and are only doing this to survive. The least we could do is help them stay healthy, without any language barriers to hurdle across. As Fadiman said, “For the Hmong, it is never everyone for himself.”
i. Burgess, Ariel. “Health Challenges for Refugees and Immigrants.” Refugee Reports 25.2 (2004): 1. IRSA, Mar.-Apr. 2004. Web. 10 Aug. 2016.
ii. Fadiman, Anne. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1997. Anthropology 370. MSU. Web. 10 Aug. 2016.
iii. Marcum, Diana. “Lia Lee Dies at 30; Figure in Cultural Dispute over Epilepsy Treatment.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 20 Sept. 2012. Web. 10 Aug. 2016.
iv. Zong, Jie, and Jeanne Batalova. “Frequently Requested Statistics on Immigrants and Immigration in the United States.” Migrationpolicy.org. April 14, 2016. Accessed August 10, 2016. http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/frequently-requested-statistics-immigrants-and-immigration-united-states.