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Letter: Beyond the Borders

To the Editor:

The needs of our immigrant populations will continue long after Congress makes a decision about comprehensive immigration reform.

Immigrants face many obstacles in integrating into their new communities. Joanne Lipson, a nurse anthropologist who studied an Afghan population that settled in California after the Afghan Russian incursion, found that language and social dissonance kept most Afghans from associating with Americans. This keeps people from thriving in their new country. In her book, “The Middle of Everywhere: Helping Refugees Enter the American Community,” psychologist Mary Pipher explains the myriad of things persons from other cultures must learn about life here in the U.S. This book is available through the Fairfax County Public Library. ESOL classes, citizenship classes, GED and vocational training will be needed to fully integrate our new Americans into society.

More than military presence at the border, the root causes of immigration must be addressed. Raul Grijalva, Democratic Congressman from Arizona, recently addressed border security. His district includes 350 miles of border, but he stresses the economic factors leading immigrants over the border. In Adios Ninos, historian Deborah Levinson illustrates the culture of death and destruction that has existed in one part of Central America, contributing to immigration. I would add that we must look at the social and political factors that prompt people to risk their lives crossing the border rather than remain in their own countries.

Susan Jacobson NP

Fairfax