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Drinking and Sexual Risk Among Mexican, Essay Example

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Words: 1562

Essay

Labor exploitation is a problem that dates back to the industrial revolution. Yet, this problem still exists in society today. This is not a problem that is segregated to one particular area or country. Labor exploitation occurs around the world. Any person in the labor industry could fall victim to this evil. However, there are some groups that seem to fall victim to labor exploitation more than others. One group that is more vulnerable to this is Latino immigrant workers. America is one of the most developed countries in the world and is therefore one of the most sought destinations for immigrants. America attracts immigrants from all over the world. Some come in as students seeking an education, some are seasonal workers, and many seek to make America their permanent home. America is not immune to labor exploitation of foreign workers. Migrant farm workers are essential to the well-being of American families. The majority of food that Americans consume is produced by the hands of migrant workers. Up to 85% of fruits and vegetables in the U.S. are cultivated and/or hand harvested by farmworkers, half of whom earn less than $10,000per year (Alderete, Vega, Kolody, & Gaxiola, 2000), and migrant and seasonal farmworkers comprise almost half of this work force (Alderete et al., 2000).

Migrant workers experience high occurrences of mental and physical ailments. “Migrant workers experience rates of musculoskeletal pain, infections, HIV, digestive diseases, vaccine-preventable illnesses, diabetes, hypertension, circulatory problems at levels significantly higher than the general population” (Duke & Carpinteiro, 2009). Studies have also indicated that migrant workers have a higher rate of anxiety disorders than the general population. Many studies have linked mood disorders to substance and alcohol disorders. Researchers have been making efforts to identify correlations between the mental and physical health of Latino migrant workers. According to the Developmental System Theory, no single idea or trajectory exists because for the immigrant Latino worker’s diverse environment affects a variety of mental and physical outcomes (Arcury, Grzywacz, Isom, & Quandt, 2012). Several facotors affect these outcomes, such as the immigrant’s age, coping skills, perception of mental and physical illness, and the immigrant’s ability to adapt to his/her new environment (Arcury, Grzywacz, Isom, & Quandt, 2012).

Only a small percentage of Latino immigrant workers have access to health care. Only about 5% to 11% have health insurance provided by their employers and an additional 7% to 11% have access to Medicaid or other government-provided health insurance (Arcury, Grzywacz, Isom, & Quandt, 2012). Even more astoundingly, only about 13% of Latino immigrant workers have medical, dental, or behavioral health care provided to them by migrant health centers (Arcury, Grzywacz, Isom, & Quandt, 2012). It is believe that these disparities are present because these services are excluded to those migrant workers who are undocumented. Many immigrant workers, who are in the United States, fear that they will be discovered by immigration authorities and will loose their jobs or be deported to the birth countries. For example:

“During peak agricultural seasons each year, upward of 2,000 undocumented migrants cross the eastern Arizona border, although many are detained and repatriated and therefore unaccounted for in estimations. Their journeys to the U.S. are laden with opportunities for exploitation and mistreatment: many migrants pay smugglers up to $3,000 to transport them across the border, others swim across the Rio Grande or endure perilous conditions traversing the desert”(Nandi, Galea, Nandi, Strongarone, & Ompad, 2011  ).

Others are just living in extreme poverty conditions and cannot afford to seek mental and medical attention. Yet, others migrate often while in the United States and never settle in one place for an extended period of time. Finally, others just use traditional of methods of healing. For example, they may use alcohol or other distraction practices to alleviate their health concerns. Immigrant workers also use indigenous of folk treatments. They seek traditional healers, herbs, and botanicals to remedy their ailments (Gillin, 1956). Finally, a large percentage of Latino immigrant workers have negative connotations of people who suffer from mental illness. As a result, they are less likely to seek help when they are experiencing mental health issues.

The living conditions of most Latino immigrant workers are deplorable. Substandard living conditions along with the physical demands of their employment makes for a difficult life for Latino immigrants. Immigrants are exposed to pesticides, overexposure to heat and direct sun, and dangerous machinery that many have not been properly trained to operate. As a direct result of these conditions, immigrant workers suffer from viral, parasitic, and bacterial infections, digestive issues, and other illnesses that can be prevented by vaccines. The Migrant Health Act of 1962 was designed to address the health care needs of migrant workers. There are 154 federally funded health care centers around the United States that provide medical, dental, and mental health care to migrant workers. These programs have failed to remedy the problems with migrant workers because it is believed that only about 13 percent of migrant workers use these services (Arcury, Grzywacz, Isom, & Quandt, 2012. Therefore, a large percentile of Latino immigrant workers is left with no formal medical and metal health services.

The limitability of access to health care services raises the immigrant workers chance of contracting HIV. Immigrants are exposed to several HIV risk factors, including limited access to health services, having multiple sex partners, homosexual relationships, multiple sexual partners, rare condom use, drug use, and needle drug use (Duke & Carpinteiro, 2009). The availability and use of drugs is linked to immigrants participating in risky sexual behavior. These risky behaviors also place the wives of immigrant workers at risk. The risky behaviors that migrant workers engage in during their time in the United States can adversely affect their communities when they return home. Studies suggest that women are powerless to negotiate safe sex practices with their husbands, which is the highest risk factor for the Latino population (Duke & Carpinteiro, 2009).   About 21 percent of immigrant workers say that they work as prostitutes for money (Duke & Carpinteiro, 2009).

Latino immigrant workers have very little chance of achieving the American Dream. The American Dream means being able to achieve success through hard work and determination no matter what one short comings may be. According to the American Dream, it does not matter how poor one is, he or she can build a great life for his/her family. This dream is nearly impossible for Latinos because of the negative connotations that Americans have of them. Yet, many Latinos come to America in search of that dream, but find themselves living in poverty in America too. For example:

“The American Dream is represented by two main components—freedom and opportunity. Both of these essential aspects of American life appear to be greatly lacking in Latin America and make the United States an attractive solution to the problems of the immigrants’ native countries”( (Duke & Carpinteiro, 2009).

Coming to America in search of a dream often remains just that for many Latino Americans. Another factor that hinders Latino immigrant workers from achieving the American Dream is negative outlooks. For example, one study found that America desires immigrants from wealthy educated families rather than those from poverty stricken countries. The United States has become discriminatory towards many immigrants. So, in other words, Americans welcome those immigrants that have already achieved success, and shun those who are working towards achieving success. Duke & Carpinteiro say, “This structural inequality creates an environment where poorer immigrants who are more personally motivated to improve the lives of their families have become, paradoxically, less empowered to do so” (Duke & Carpinteiro, 2009).

Reports of labor exploitation and abuse are surfacing by the hundreds because many immigrants are coming forward and speaking out about the deplorable conditions they are forced to live in while working in the United States. Many more immigrants are afraid to some forward and report these issues because they are afraid of being deployed. The exploitation that immigrants face has been linked to many mental issues. Living under deplorable situations has been linked to many anxiety disorders among immigrants. Studies have also shown that immigrants resort to various types of drugs and alcohol to cope with the issues they are dealing with. Immigrants have also been shown to engage in many risky sexual behaviors while working in the United States. Some immigrants even resort to become prostitutes in order to make enough money to make ends meet. In order to remedy this problem, attention must be brought to this issue.

Works Cited

Alderete, E., Vega, W. A., Kolody, B., & Aguilar-Gaxiola, S. (2000). Lifetime prevalence of and risk factors for psychiatric disorders among Mexican migrant farmworkers in California. American Journal of Public Health, 90(4), 608-614.

Arcury, T., O’Hara, H., Grzywacz, J., Isom, S., Chen, H., & Quandt, S. (2012). Work safety climate, musculoskeletal discomfort, working while injured, and depression among migrant farmworkers in North Carolina. American Journal of Public Health, 102(S2), S272-S278.

Duke, M. R., & Carpinteiro, F. J. G. (2009). The effects of problem drinking and sexual risk among Mexican migrant workers on their community of origin. Human Organization, 68(3), 328-339.

Gillin, J. (1956). The making of a witch doctor. Psychiatry: Journal for the Study of Interpersonal Processes, 19, 131-136

Nandi, A., Galea, S., Lopez, G., Nandi, V., Strongarone, S., & Ompad, D. C. (2011).Access to and use of health services among undocumented Mexican immigrants in a US urban area. American Journal of Public Health, 98(11), 2011-2020.

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