Assimilation issues during the immigration process

If you come to Louisiana as a foreign national, you might discover that the customs, traditions and practices of the dominant culture are vastly different from your own. As you settle in from another country of origin, you may find yourself feeling homesick, anxious or even fearful about life in the United States. The term “assimilation” refers to the adjustment and adaptation to a new lifestyle that coincides with the immigration process.

However, assimilation comes in two forms: voluntary and involuntary. It is the latter that can cause intense stress and, in some cases, serious legal problems. This is why it is a good idea to create a network of support with people you trust as you adapt to life in a new country. It is also wise to learn what to do if you encounter challenges, especially if those challenges are associated with legal problems, such as if ICE takes you into custody.

Voluntary assimilation is a normal part of the immigration process

You can expect life to be different in many ways in the U.S. than it was in your country of origin. Most people in Louisiana speak English, for instance, and the food here is unique to certain styles, such as Cajun or Creole. It’s natural to want to learn to speak English and, perhaps, to taste or prepare new types of food. You might even enjoy going to local festivals and taking part in new customs, such as Mardi Gras.

This type of assimilation is voluntary. You do it because you want to learn more about your new home region and the people who live here. It doesn’t mean that you must do away with your own traditions and customs, only that you want to enjoy new experiences and fully take part in Louisiana culture.

Forced to assimilate

Involuntary assimilation is a separate issue. This behavior is non-consensual. It occurs when a dominant group or majority forces an individual from a minority group to forsake his or her identity for acceptance by the dominant group. If someone threatens you or denies you civil rights because of your race, ethnicity or cultural background, you may be a victim of involuntary assimilation.

Long ago, many Native Americans experienced involuntary assimilation when people prohibited them from speaking their native language in schools and forced them to dress like most other students in those schools. Your employer, neighbors or even local law enforcement officers cannot force you to dress like other Louisiana residents or to stop practicing your faith or other family traditions just because you arrived here from another country.

Resolving legal issues that arise after emigrating from another country

If you are dealing with forced assimilation or legal problems associated with immigration, it is good to know that you do not have to try to resolve the issue on your own. You may reach out for additional support from someone who can help you navigate the system. This type of support is often the key to achieving a positive outcome.