Adaptation of Immigrant Adolescents Within the U.S.

Adaptation of Immigrant Adolescents Within the U.S.


 This research proposal is designed to answer various insufficiencies present in our understanding of the psychology of the adjustment of immigrant adolescents to the U.S. school ecology. The proposed research is expected to cater to aspects such as the impact that immigration into the U.S. has on students at various academic levels in relation to information concerning the mental well-being of this demographic especially in regards to adjustment. The main emphasis of this research will be the assessment of the behavioral, academic, and emotional adjustment of immigrant adolescents, especially among school-going children. The study will evaluate how these students cope in terms of post-migration stress and whether there is a social support system provided in different settings, such as at school and at home. The contributors of this research will be 200 immigrant students from the elementary, middle, and high school education levels. Elements such as varying levels of social support and of stress are expected to be connected with the aspect of poor adaptation in the new surroundings.

Adaptation of Immigrant Adolescents Within the United States

In the last two decades, the United States has experienced a constant wave of immigrants entering the country. The effects of this immigration have been hotly debated, especially in regards to society and the economy. However, a critical aspect that has been largely greatly understated in this discourse has been the psychological and emotional welfare of immigrant adolescents (Adelman & Taylor, 2015). Despite extensive research being conducted on the acculturation of immigrants in general, little is known concerning the adjustment of these school-going adolescents and the challenges they often encounter. These children are often forced to navigate new cultures that often pose unique health issues and in some cases, significant psychological consequences. The integration of these children into the different communities across the country can also have extreme psychosocial impacts on them. Some studies have sought to quantify how stressful the process of adaptation can be to this demographic (Gualdi-Russo, Toselli, Masotti, Marzouk, & Sundquist, 2014). Stress, in this case, arises from aspects such as exposure to a new culture or language and the abandonment of their familiar social context. This study will seek to determine the extent to which the immigrant adolescents struggle to re-establish themselves within the U.S. During this process; this research will also evaluate how the roles of these adolescents in their families are redefined upon entry into the country. The research has also identified several specific areas in need of examinations such as the processes of adaptation, the disruption of the social networks, the impact of the immigration-related stress on the students and the effects of any perceived discrimination or prejudice. Ultimately, this proposed study will provide a broader perspective on the adaptation and adjustment of immigrant adolescents within the United States and the psychological effects it has on these adolescents.

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An overview of the existing literature on immigrants reveals that a large percentage of immigrant adolescents adapt successfully to the social and cultural environment of the United States (Vang & Eckstein , 2015). However, Gualdi-Russo, et al. (2014) discovered that most of these immigrant adolescents were alienated from their non-immigrant peers and had a lower self-efficacy in terms of their acculturation process. In terms of academics, immigrant students also outperformed their non-immigrant counterparts from the same cultural backgrounds. However, it should be pointed out that this aspect experiences divergence across different socio-cultural boundaries. For example, African immigrants do not show the same accomplishment advantage when compared to other cultural groups (Toppelberg & Collins, 2012). On the other hand, academic achievement usually deteriorates as the immigrants continue to reside within the country. This is mainly because the immigrants who hail from poor minority backgrounds often assimilate to the urban culture of their peers which in most cases is antithetical to the goals of the educational establishments.

Literature Review

Various studies concerning the issue of adaptation of immigrants have highlighted potential antecedents that influence the adjustment of the students to the new surroundings. These include mental health, family, coping mechanisms, and contextual factors, among others (Perreira & Ornelas, 2011). However, there are also other influences that are integral to the acculturation of the immigrant students such as the socio-economic status, language difficulties, ethnic and racial prejudice, family and societal expectations, peer values, student-parent conflict, the students’ age, and the stress that results from the immigration process and loss of established social relationships (Guarnaccia & Lopes, 1998). However, the researchers also affirm that most of the current data on the adaptation process of immigrants is inconclusive and insufficient. This aspect explains why recent research has adopted a positivist approach to the adaptation of the immigrants and as a result, has yielded significant information about the risks associated with this experience. For example, aspects such as the bicultural competence which is the ability of the students to function in both the family and school contexts have emerged as a result of the conflict that arises within these cultures.

However, ethnographic research on the issue has revealed substantial variations in terms of the circumstances of the immigrant students and their families (Toppelberg & Collins, 2012). The studies have illustrated several psychosocial and educational obstacles and issues that emerge from the process of adaptation. As Schachner (2017) points out, immigrant adolescents often face a variety of exceptional circumstances, especially in relation to their educational needs. Additionally, some of the challenges that are brought about by the aspect of poverty include high residential mobility which affects the students’ ability to cope with the emotional stresses associated with the new institutional environment and their social norms. Therefore, as a result of an inadequate social support system, the process of adaptation often affects the immigrants’ psychological well-being. The psychosocial and educational challenges that arise due to these factors are undoubtedly interconnected and complex.

In the recent past, efforts by various sectors of the society provide interventions that can help support the immigrant population in terms of adjustment which have been crucial to their adaptation to the new environment in the U.S. (Adelman & Taylor, 2015) However, a further analysis of the causal factors that affect the well-being of the immigrant adolescents need to be discovered. The widespread research that has been conducted on this issue has acknowledged the presence of differing perspectives that seek to explain the adjustment outcomes experienced by this demographic. However, recent studies have gone further and incorporated research from countries across Europe and as a result have provided specific acculturative practices that influence the psychological adjustment process (Dimitrova, Chasiotis, & Van de Vijver, 2016). This process has been beneficial to bridging the gaps present and in turn improved our understanding of the different societal contexts involved.

Mental Health

In comparison to the consideration accorded to academic issues, there are few researchers that have assessed the effect of migration on the mental development of the immigrants (Rudmin & Kwak, 2014). As a result, recent studies have begun to address the mental health and psychological adjustment of the immigrant adolescents arguing that such aspects are just as essential as educational-related interventions (Dimitrova, Chasiotis, & Van de Vijver, 2016). Moreover, according to Portes and Rivas (2011), the psychological risks that are posed by the conflict-ridden and unstable environments present in the immigrant students’ background are often intensified by the inability to adjust to their new surroundings. As a result, various mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and other psychosomatic disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder often arise due to the complicated transition process associated with immigration.

Ample evidence has shown that youths are at a greater risk of exhibiting symptoms associated with psychological stress (Gualdi-Russo, Toselli, Masotti, Marzouk, & Sundquist, 2014). The school environment has specifically been highlighted as a source of stress from the immigrant students, especially those that come from minority cultures. According to Schachner (2017), the differences present between the school environment and the family ecology of the minority children are likely to result in the development of stress. This is because minority children have a higher likelihood of experiencing a discontinuity in the different social contexts of development. Consequently, these students often are unable to develop a shared comradery within the academic setting, which is integral for their educational success. Persistent and excessive stress within the school environment can also have severe consequences for the immigrant children’s adjustment into the new culture. Adelman and Taylor (2015) suggested that their existing different ethnic coping strategies that are adopted by immigrant students deal with academic-related stress. These coping mechanisms often isolate this demographic from the support systems present in the school and reduce their ability to connect to this environment.

Coping Mechanisms

Adelman and Taylor (2015) have argued for the adoption of a positivist approach in the assessment of the immigrants, especially when it comes to the coping mechanisms associated with adaptation. The research should, therefore, focus less on the dysfunctionality of the students and examine how this migration process can result in the students adopting a new repertoire of coping skills. These coping mechanisms often broaden the opportunities of the students and also enable the realization of new skills and world views (Vang & Eckstein , 2015). Various studies have acknowledged that immigrant students often possess a rejuvenated form of resilience that improves or sustains their ability to adapt to their new environments. However, for the students who are unable to cope with changes present, the research shows that they are at a higher risk for substance abuse, deviant behavior, psychological distress, and educational failure. Therefore, by putting the positivist and developmentalist models, research can explain the relationship present between psychological distress, adaptation, and migration. Ultimately, this will provide an extensive framework into the analysis of the adaptation experience.


The literature review also emphasizes the influence of the family unit on the adaptation experience of the immigrant students (Toppelberg & Collins, 2012). One of the most crucial factors that have been established from this research is the significance of the intergenerational clashes present between the children and their guardians. As immigrant families often acculturate at varying degrees, it often leads to conflict due to the establishment of different goals. One of the main factors that often influence this process is the fact that most of these parents rely on the children as their interpreters. This aspect results in problems within the family unit as the parents believe that their reliance on their children erodes their parental authority (Perreira & Ornelas, 2011). Furthermore, it also means that immigrant children are exposed to duties and responsibilities they are not mentally prepared for.

Gualdi-Russo, et al. (2014) revealed in their evaluation of immigrant children that child-parent conflict was one of the most significant predictors of depression and reduced confidence. Additionally, the presence of different gender roles within the United States as compared to their ethnic backgrounds often resulted in conflict because of the adoption of new roles within the family. For example, in some cultures, females are often pressured to follow the traditional paths which generally do not value aspects such as female education. However, in the United States, due to the presence of strict laws, they are forced to change their perceptions (Adelman & Taylor, 2015). As a result, tension often rises between the immigrant children and their parents, especially when they begin to integrate themselves into the new culture of the United States. Such aspects challenge the traditional views of female roles in the family unit and eventually affect the adaptation process of the immigrant students.

Contextual Factors

In relation to the contextual factors, in most cases, the welfare of the immigrants is often connected to their acculturation alignments. This ideally means that the adherence to both cultures by the immigrants is ultimately conducive to their emotional and mental well-being and better developmental outcomes (Schachner, 2017). Additionally, effective policies for the immigrant student’s cultural and ethnolinguistic diversity and integration can have a potential influence on their ability to adapt or adjust. The proximal environments in which most of these immigrant children’s lives are entrenched, such as the societal attitudes present in the United States, constitute essential societal variables for their adaptation. Studies have shown that discrimination of immigrant children is essential when it comes to explaining the different outcomes in their adaptation (Schachner, 2017). Ultimately, the successful adjustment of immigrants relies on their ability to challenge acculturative and development tasks. Contexts that are able to deliver prospects for the investigation and expansion of choices, goals, and abilities often foster ideal results.

Expanded Scope of Research

Review of the existing literature has shown that the research of the adaptation of immigrant adolescents within the United States has mainly focused on academic adjustment, internalizing, and externalizing outcomes (Vang & Eckstein , 2015). In this case, internalizing outcomes refer to the depressive and psychological distress symptoms. On the other hand, externalizing outcomes refer to the conduct behaviors that these children exhibit within the school setting such as the tendency of substance abuse wile academic adjustment outcomes are the attitudes that pertain to school achievement. Conventionally, most of the empirical research conducted on the maladaptive processes associated with adaptation in immigrant children often results in adverse or negative outcomes (Portes & Rivas, 2011). As a result, immigrant adolescents have been reported to exhibit increased levels of adjustment issues when equated to their non-immigrant counterparts from the majority population. This phenomenon is referred to as migration morbidity. Therefore, the research conducted across a variety of contexts illustrates the relationship present between the excessive levels of psychological status and their migrant status of the children (Toppelberg & Collins, 2012). It should also be pointed out that several studies conducted across the United States have documented a rise in immigrant adolescents’ maladaptive behaviors, school difficulties, and disruptive issues especially in the school setting (Adelman & Taylor, 2015).

However, it is unfair for researchers to make the conclusion that immigrant adolescents are doing worse than their non-immigrant counterparts. This notion has often been challenged by studies which reveal that immigrants can convey better adjustment and adaptation abilities regardless of their more inferior socioeconomic status. Within the literature, this phenomenon is known as the immigrant paradox. Most of the evidence has been produced by studies in Canada. Within the United States, this paradox has been established by some of the studies thereby proving its existence (Rudmin & Kwak, 2014). This research has shown that when compared to the non-immigrant population, immigrants convey lower rates of internalizing symptoms like stress and depression. However, due to the influence of their socio-economically disadvantaged background, it becomes more challenging for studies to establish this fact. Similarly, evidence has been produced that support the immigration paradox in terms of academic behaviors and attitudes such that immigrants often reveal better adjustment outcomes within the school setting especially in relation to their self-reported feelings towards education (Adelman & Taylor, 2015). Ultimately, these different studies reveal that the scope of the research on the adaptation of immigrant adolescents within the country should also explore various aspects such as the immigration paradox and the influence of the immigrants’ disadvantaged backgrounds on the results.

Summary and Conclusion

Much of the empirical research highlighted in this literature review in reference to the immigrant adolescent adaptation has focused on the influence of various socio-cultural factors and how they influence the ability of this demographic to adjust. However, more research needs to be conducted on the shaping power of the immigrants’ expectations and aspirations and how it can ultimately affect the adaptation process. Psychologists and sociologists have also provided consistent evidence that highlights the impact of the new environment emotional welfare of immigrants. Therefore, the underlying rationale, in this case, can be perceived as straightforward. The focus of this research should be on the behavioral and academic adjustments of the immigrant children in relation to various factors such as exposure to family strains, mental health problems and the availability of a social support system that facilitates the process of adjustment. The hypothesis of this study will be that lower levels of social support and higher levels of family stress are directly associated with poor immigrant adjustment or adaptation. Causes of stress that will be investigated in this study include economic hardship, acculturation conflict, perceived prejudice, and aspects such as overall life stress.


Due to the complexities associated with the development of adjustment measures within the immigrant population, this formative research proposal will use a qualitative design to examine and analyze the scope of the adaptation process. Semi-structured interviews will be convened with a select number of immigrant adolescents to help reveal gaps in the research methods used. This qualitative research will be beneficial in the discovery of the extent to which there is a direct relationship between an immigrants’ socio-cultural background and their ability to adapt to the new social environment. Typically, it will be challenging for complex human behaviors to be established using quantitative research. Therefore, statistical inference will also be used to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the data produced. However, it should be noted that statistical reference will not be the main objective of the research. By relying on in-depth interviews that rely on open-ended questions, this research will provide a variety of information for analysis. Despite the long-standing significance of using comprehensive cognitive-behavioral analysis to examine the mental health of the participants, this study will opt for a different approach to identify the mental well-being. Such an approach will provide more insights about the patients and improve the perceptions of the research.


The sample involved in the research will be comprised of 350 immigrant students (175 boys and 175 girls) at different educational levels (middle schools and high school. The participants of the research will be selected randomly from different schools and will consist of newly immigrated school entrants. In order to affirm the validity of this study, informed consent shall be acquired from the students’ guardians. Additionally, all the students will be required to sign assent forms. In order to guarantee confidentiality, the participants’ names will be excluded from the interview during the process of statistical entry. As a result, the participants will only be identified by randomized number codes. The school staff, parents, and any other involved personnel will be advised not to disclose any information about the individual participants. The interviews will distribute consent forms to the guardians of the participants who fulfill the criteria of involvement required by the study. The guardians will send the forms through the post. Ultimately, the participating students will all be presented with gifts for their contribution to the investigation.


The initial interviews of the participants will happen before the summer of the participants’ initial year. Thereafter, follow-up interviews will be conducted after a period of two years. The participants will be individually assessed within the school premises at isolated settings. Each interviewer will be linked with a student according to aspects such as language and cultural background. After this process, each interviewer will be randomly assigned according their respective designated students across different grade levels. The restriction present in this case is that the interviewers are deemed accountable for specific participants by their education level or gender. Towards the end of every academic year, the teachers will provide the rating of the students’ school adaptation among other aspects such as psychological adjustment. Educational indicators in terms of performance, will also be acquired from the students’ personal academic records


Majority of the proposed measures within this study have been employed in previous studies. This means that these methods have excellent psychometric values. In order to be completely efficient, the measures will be translated according to each participant’s language, which will be then verified by the relevant professionals.

Social Support

The participants’ social support data will be attained via the Children’s Convoy Mapping Procedure (Schachner, 2017). The interviewees will be required to single out individuals whom they believe are most significant and closest to them within the inner circle of a coaxial circle illustration with individuals less close placed in the middle and outer circle illustration. The participants will be further asked to categorize five persons within their social networks that offer each of the five support functions tapping the domains of support that are quantified in the convoy model.

Acculturation Conflict, Stress, And Perceived Discrimination Measures

The overall life stress of each participant will be quantified using a pre-defined checklist of various strenuous life events that were adapted from (Gualdi-Russo, Toselli, Masotti, Marzouk, & Sundquist, 2014). Supposed prejudice and acculturation conflict will be quantified using measures that were developed by (Schachner, 2017).

Adjustment Measures

Various guides of emotional adjustment will include the Harter Self-Perception Profile and the Children’s Depression Inventory-Short Form. Over the past few years, these measures have established legitimacy and consistency, and this explains why they have been relied upon extensively among school-age children.

The achievement of the students will be examined through standardized achievement test scores and grade reports provided by the school. Other academic scores will be combined to provide a general achievement measure. In terms of psychological well-being, the study does not expect immigrant students to differ significantly from their non-immigrant counterparts. This is mainly because that psychological literature has shown that is often a decrease in the psychological well-being among all adolescent students regardless of their cultural background (Toppelberg & Collins, 2012). However, teachers will also be tasked with completing various behavioral adjustment measures for the children.

Data Analysis Plan

An initial study will be conducted to affirm the scale dependability of the various demographics so as to confirm that the characteristics of the different scales have not violated any statistical test assumptions. Moreover, additional itemization will assess the impact of the different factors that are not covered within the main emphasis of the research, such as the immigrants’ parental background. If necessary, some of these fluctuating aspects could be encompassed as control variables for the final evaluation. Due to the presence of expected attrition within some of the interviews, comparisons will be made before the process of data analysis, to establish if there exist systematic differences. As the hypothesis of this study is lower levels of social support, and higher levels of family stress are directly associated with poor immigrant adjustment or adaptation, multiple regression analysis will be relied upon in the evaluation of the results. The main criterion for this analysis will be adjustment scales for the second year that will be provided by the school. Additionally, an isolated regression analyses will be implemented after every adaptation directory. The predictors of this analysis will comprise of aspects such as stress measures, social support, and student age.

Discussion & Expected Findings

This proposed research will make a substantial contribution by providing a theoretical comprehension of various social support systems and how they influence academic outcomes and the required data on how the educators can cope with substantial and consistent influx of immigrant population. Whenever immigrant adolescents enter schools within the United States initially, they often come across a different setting that poses new strains for adjustment. Additionally, these immigrant adolescents often have a limited ability to communicate and therefore lack the social support system that was present in their native locales. As a result, they often encounter prejudice and grief that they were not accosted in their previous lifestyles. Consequently, their family members are also subject to a range of stressors that are associated with the process of migration which can include acculturation issues, and legal problems. Therefore, this planned research will offer a better comprehension of how immigrant adolescents at different demographics respond in terms of psychology and academics to diverse elements in present in their present environment. Most importantly, the research will offer recommendations that can be used to identify immigrant adolescents, especially within the school setting who are at risk of maladaptive behaviors and outcomes.


The thorough literature review that has been conducted in this proposal has indicated that there exists a gap in understanding the potential psychological effects of adjustments to immigrant adolescents that need to be addressed. The literature suggests the need to examine how various aspects within the ecology of these immigrant adolescents influence the adaptation process within the United States. In most of these cases, the lack of social support during the process results in maladaptive behaviors that are detrimental to the immigrants psychosocial and education outcomes. Therefore, this proposal has present a study that seeks to define appropriate strategies that can determine or establish the ability of different immigrant adolescents to acculturate or adapt to the new social environment. Through a comprehensive theoretical understanding of the challenges facing the immigrants coupled with a practical comprehension of the factors that influence this process, this study will provide a broader perspective on the adaptation of immigrant students within the United States and the psychological effects it has on these adolescents.


Adelman, H. S., & Taylor, L. (2015). Immigrant Children and Youth in the USA: Facilitating Equity of Opportunity at School. Education Sciences, 5(1), 323–344.

Dimitrova, R., Chasiotis, A., & Van de Vijver, F. (2016). Adjustment Outcomes of Immigrant Children and Youth in Europe: A Meta-Analysis. European Psychologist, 21(2), 150-162.

Gualdi-Russo, E., Toselli, S., Masotti, S., Marzouk, D., & Sundquist, J. (2014). Health, growth and psychosocial adaptation of immigrant children. European Journal of Public Health, 24(1), 16–25.

Guarnaccia, P. J., & Lopes, S. (1998). The Mental Health and Adjustment of Immigrant and Refugee Children. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 7(3), 537-553.

Perreira, K. M., & Ornelas, I. J. (2011). The Physical and Psychological Well-Being of Immigrant Children. The Future of Children, 21(1), 195-218.

Portes, A., & Rivas, A. (2011). The Adaptation of Migrant Children. The Future of Children, 21(1), 219-246.

Rudmin , F., & Kwak, K. (2014, November 14). Adolescent health and adaptation in Canada: examination of gender and age aspects of the healthy immigrant effect. Retrieved from International Journal for Equity in Health:

Schachner, M. K. (2017). Contextual Conditions for Acculturation and Adjustment of Adolescent Immigrants. Jena: Friedrich Schiller University Jena.

Toppelberg, C. O., & Collins, B. A. (2012). Language, Culture, and Adaptation in Immigrant Children. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 19(4), 697–717.

Vang, Z. M., & Eckstein , S. E. (2015, August 12). Toward an improved understanding of immigrant adaptation and transnational engagement. Retrieved from Comparative Migration Studies:


ATSIP and Immigrant Ethnic Minorities in the Criminal Justice System

Essay Topic: Discuss a number of populations who are entering criminal justice system at an increased rate. Pick two of the populations discussed in this Unit who are experiencing this problem, and explain the shared and different reasons why this is occurring. You should use case studies and examples to support your argument.

The Increasing rates of aboriginal/ Torres Strait islanders people (ATISP) and immigrants (ethnic minorities) coming in contact with the Criminal Justice system (CJS) can be argued as whether “Australia’s criminal justice system (CJS) has satisfied the coexisting core principles which include fairness, transparency and equality before the law” (Burgess, 2010, p12). This piece explores the two populations through the conservative and oppressive attitude of the CJS and the challenges of multiple factors such as police discretion, institutionalised racism, bias and discrimination. The history revolving around the system’s ability to impose “equality, fairness and access” ( Beazer, 2018, p280), is argued on what factors have contributed to the increasing rate of the CJS compared to other populations and determine how/why the CJS sees these populations as problems, how they come in contact with the CJS so often, the similarities and differences between these populations which intersect and reforms which can help with our current CJS to overcome the barriers of bias and overrepresentation of these populations.

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The criminal justice system (CJS) under the Common law/ Westminster system derived from the UK, examines ‘the rule of law’ being defined as ‘within which all people should be treated alike: without fear or favour; rich or poor; male or female; established Australian or migrant” (White and Perrone, 2015, p.351). In correlation, Indigenous people are constantly overrepresented, experience institutionised racism and discrimination and disregarded with constant experience to “intense scrutiny and intervention” (Cuneen, 2008, p65). The issue of overrepresentation and  treatment of indigenous and Torres Strait islanders becoming “racialised and criminalised” (Cunneen,2008, p68), is the fact that “white policy makers hold leverage and control over them systematically, eroding the relationship between ATISP and the CJS” ( Cunneen, 2016, p1). The CJS reveals itself to be an unknown and unfamiliar system with western legal ideology which overrides the ATISP’s system of tradition, community values and casts it out as irrelevant (Cunneen, 2016,p48 ). They are essentially a population which “lives in a country with two laws” (Cunneen,2008,p121). The erosion of trust, identity and understanding between the Indigenous community and CJS comes from their stolen identity during the cross generational colonisation/marginalisation, where “the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia (2006, p192) found that ‘historically Aboriginal people have been subject to oppressive treatment by police. As a consequence, Aboriginal people often distrust and resent police officers” (Cunneen, 2016, p70) .Hence, the ATSIP has endured oppression, which involves reported stats “back in 1991, depicting the number of Indigenous prisoners increasing by 8% annually compared to 3%” (Cunneen, 2011,p8) while in the ABS 2017, prisoners in Australia reporting “the rate of imprisonment being 15% higher compared  to non-aboriginal people and that the rate for aboriginal people has increased by 4% from 2,346 in 2016 to 2,434” (ABS, 2017).  By imposing Western ideologies, “It is not the case that Indigenous people are ignored in criminology, but that they are constantly the object of intense scrutiny and intervention” (Cunneen, 2008, p65). Consequently, the ATISP had to “accept the fact that they are a doomed race whom has been imposed/ trapped by an alien culture” (Cunneen, 2008, p131).

The CJS has flaws in accommodating Indigenous people stemming from their limitations of access and lack of consideration to accommodate Aboriginal customs and traditions into the CJS’s procedures. This places the system’s challenges in maintaining  the coexistence of “equality, fairness and access” (Beazer,2018,p280) and essentially the system fails by their lack of inclusion and integration of aboriginal customs. The ATISP within the CJS is disadvantaged where they are being overrepresented through their “race being conflated with criminality and viewed as a colonised and criminalised group” (Cuneen,p68,2008). This means that actions which are not normally deemed a crime by the state, are more likely subjected to over-policing and arrest. Overpolicing has been an issue where “over-representation happens at all levels of the justice system: including initial contact, arrest, conviction and imprisonment” (Cunneen, 2015, p370). The population was subject to “constant surveillance experienced by some Aboriginal communities, being dramatically brought to public attention in the 1970s, following media reports on the policing of the Sydney suburb, Redfern, where there was a high concentration of Aboriginal people” (Cunneen, 2015, p370). This depicts the history of ATISP and the police to have been depicted as a long hostile and discretionary relationship. Forms of discretion range from stats showcasing that police would more likely stop and search young aboriginal people compared to non-aboriginal people and between 90-95% of these searches were unsuccessful” (Cunneen, 2016,p72). Additionally, “move-on notices were issued to Aboriginal people in inappropriate circumstances and were disproportionately affected by this law. Aboriginal people were also being targeted by the police for congregating in large groups in public areas even though no one is doing anything wrong” (Cunneen, 2016, p72). Crimes considered minor offenses and not heavily defined by the state such as “public drunkenness and minor offences such as offensive language” (Weatherburn,2014,p3), “were still subjected to twice as likely to be arrested and three times more likely to be imprisoned compared to non-indigenous people ” (AHRC, 2019). With these arrests there have also been a substantial increase in ATISP deaths in custody. A report has examined “between 1989 and 1996, a total of 96 ATISP died in custody” (Cunneen, 2011, p8) while “between 2008 and 2019, 153 ATISP have died in custody” (AHRC, 2019). Evident in the death of Ms Dhu in 2014, she was mistreated by police where she was “cuffed, accused and overlooked by her complaining about her injuries/pain seeming exaggerated/faked and eventually died due to infection by injuries caused by her partner” (Allam,2019). Another example showcases the death of Kwementyaye Briscoe, “where he was arrested due to him being drunk in a public space. His death comes by the mistreatment and lack of treatment by police while being dragged to his cell, succumbing to alcohol poisoning and inadequate medical checking ” (Allam, 2019). Overall, the history of hostility/oppression portrayed by authorities and police showcases the lack of inclusion, trust and reform between the authorities and ATISP.

The overrepresentation of Immigrant (ethnic minority) populations comes from the public’s fear of crime and factors of labelling, discrimination and institutionalised racism play a significant role in depicting the “myth of the criminal immigrant being deeply rooted in public opinion, shaped by political rhetoric and fanned by sensationalist media accounts” (Sydes,2015,p11).This results in different ethnic groups ending up increasingly racial profiled and overpoliced within our general population and overrepresented in the CJS. As ethnic minorities means any person born outside Australia, defining this term would be difficult as there are people who have the appearance of a minority, yet it is also easy to misrepresent who exactly is born in Australia or born overseas just by their appearance (Pyonting,2008, p119). Age and race also makes the label “dubious and not straight forward” (Pyonting, 2008, p119 ). In “forming the myth which protrudes the idea of fearing crime where gangs of ethnic minority youth are perceived to be threatening because of unfamiliarity to or produce prejudice on the part of, dominant ethnic groups engendered by media and popular representations” (Cunneen, 2008, p119).  Although there has never been a true link to ethnicity and crime, people’s perceptions usually “stems from the fact that immigrants typically embody the characteristics known to be associated with crime among natives” (Syde, 2015, p13). However most people base their judgment on their “appearance, socio economic status, education and age which links them demographically with other ethnic minority groups” (Mukherjee,1999, Cunneen, 2008, p119).  History of Immigrant crime linking usually relates back to assumptions and past actions where people from particular minority races have committed horrific or shocking crimes which have substantially impacted the community. However reports have found that first generation immigrants are “actually underrepresented in crime with 3.9 per 1000 with being less than that for adult Australians at 5.7 per 1000 people” (Pyonting,2008, p120). Considering this, the “recidivism rate of immigrants was half that of Australian born locals” (Pyonting, 2008,p120). However “popular media prejudices and misconceptions” (Poynting,2008,p121) blow these situations out of proportion. Examples dating back to the 1950’s show that different minority groups change, so long as they are the centre of attention at the time. From the 1950’s and 60’s, “the attention was directed at the Italians and greeks , where in 1961 they were involved in an organised prosititution” (Pyonting, 2008, p121). During 1970, “there was a whole community of Italians being  criminalised due to the sales of cannabis” (Poynting, 2008, p121). In the 1980’s, “Vietnamese people were a sign of violence and drug related crime due to paranoia and connection to the Vietnam War” (Pyonting,2008, p121). Essentially the common trend of these events were, whatever the state defines as a crime at the time and whatever ethnic group/ minority produces drama, moral panic and substantial harm to a community, whether it is now or in the past (eg 9/11,Vietnam War), will cause moral panic upon the community, who will disproportionately label, racialise and misrepresent (Poynting,2008,p121). In correlation, the “rise in young ethnic gangs: Asian and Lebanese in the 1990’s in the diverse cities of Melbourne and Sydney, was another incident which produced moral panic, and were subjected to popular state surveillance and intervention” (Poynting, 2008, p121).  Essentially this never ending cycle would continue today to the incident of the South Sudanese population being blamed for the “Apex gang” involvement in the Moomba brawl incident in 2016 ( Benier, 2018). Essentially this situation caused the community to stereotypically label the sudanese gangs as the current trending gang. Perspectively, this trend will never end and once another incident arises, this will provide a chain domino effect lunging onto the next minority. Ultimately, institutionalised racism stems from the differences and bias which comes from the exaggerated perceptions and opinions of the media and general population, where essentially “the extra visibility of young ethnic minority people feeds the media’s moral panics over gangs, as well as bolstering a racial stereotyping based upon physical appearance” (White, 2015,2013a, p45).

Essentially both discussed populations intersect quite similarly by being interwined through institutionalised racism, marginisation and discrimination. Intersectionality showcases how both groups form similar tendencies for other people to stigmatise them and assume them as deviants in our society. Factors such as discrimination, racism and socio economic status form a basic foundation to why they are commonly overrepresented in the CJS. Both populations experience “differential policing , where this refers to a style of policing that negatively impacts those subject to police decisions based on particular sexual, racial and class dimensions and stereotypes” (White, 2015, p370). Both populations also have similar age groups being overrepresented particularly the youth whom are less controlled compared to first generation parents. ATISP are also subject to moral panic and stereotyping since “in a similar vein, the dominant construction of Aboriginality within the media is largely negative and tends to be associated with stereotypes such as the long-grasser, juvenile joyrider, petty thieves and drunk crimes” (White, 2015, p45). The two populations ultimately incite bias from public perception and fear based on their actions/behaviour around them. Perspectively both populations experience institutionalised racism, where over policing is common for police to perceive these ethnic groups to behave in a certain way and harness particular stereotypes. The differences from which these populations experience stem from their origins, status and methods in which they are mistreated by authorities. Although ATISP has existing reforms such as koori courts, community centres and night patrols, ethnic minorities don’t really have any of these reforms and tend to be trapped within public perception due to the population’s past actions. Whatever differences and similarities these populations have in common, what is certain is the fact they are caught in a society which is bias and sensitive to fear of crime. Both populations require inclusion, reform and alternate/diversion sentencing measures within the CJS to avoid overrepresentation.

As our country becomes more diverse and with society’s values changing rapidly, the CJS/law should follow suit to reflect these changes in depicting society’s diverse values and customs. Our current CJS fails to adopt and adapt changes under the rule of law, which reflects as conservative barriers block inclusion and why certain populations end up overrepresented. Populations such as the ATSIP and Immigrant ethnic minorities mainly become overpoliced due to them being subject to institutional racism, labelling, discrimination and oppression. Resolving the problem of overrepresentation requires the CJS to be open to reform, understanding, interaction, education and social inclusivity to allow the system to provide alternative access/justice solutions to represent the values of the general population. Overall, given the conservative nature and stance of our CJS, the perspective of the general society, and the lack of change to reform the flaws in accommodating these populations equally within our justice system and society, is essentially what makes these populations so overrepresented. 



Allam, L Bannister J,Herbert M, Wahlquist C, 2019, Deaths inside: Indigenous Australian deaths in custody 2019, The Guardian , Balnaves foundation>

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 2017 . Prisoners in Australia, 2017. Australian Bureau of Statistics>

Australian Human rights commission 2019, Indigenous Deaths in Custody: Report Summary, Australian Human rights commission,

Beazer, Farrar, Filippin, Wilson 2018. Access and Justice 14e legal studies for units 3 and 4. Cambridge University Press, 14th ed.

Benier, K., Blaustein, J., Johns, D., & Maher, S. 2018. ‘Don’t drag me into this’: Growing up South Sudanese in Victoria after the 2016 Moomba ‘riot’. Full report. Melbourne: Centre for Multicultural Youth.

Burgess, S 2010. Aboriginals in the courtroom: recognising cultural differences. Bulletin (Law Society of South Australia).;dn=201100581;res=IELAPA>

Cunneen, C, 2008, ‘Colonial critique and critical criminology: Issues in Aboriginal law and aboriginal violence’, Blagg,H & Cunneen, C (eds.), The Critical Criminology Companion, Hawkins Press, Leichhardt N.S.W, pp129-143

Cunneen, C, 2008, ‘Ethnic minority immigrants crime and the state’, Poynting, S & Cunneen,C (eds.), The Critical Criminology Companion, Hawkins Press, Leichhardt N.S.W, pp118-128

Cunneen, C 2008, The Critical Criminology Companion, Hawkins Press, Leichhardt N.S.W,

Cunneen, C 2011. Punishment: Two Decades of Penal Expansionism and Its Effects on Indigenous Imprisonment, Auslii

Cunneen, C, Tauri, J 2016,New Horizons in criminology: Indigenous criminology, Policy Press  University of Bristol, Great Britain

Mukherjee, S 1999. Ethnicity and Crime:  an Australian research study, Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC),

Wickes, R & Sydes, M 2015, Immigration and crime. in S Pickering & J Ham (eds), The Routledge Handbook on Crime and International Migration. 1st edn, Routledge, Abingdon UK, pp. 11-25.

Weatherburn, D. 2014. Arresting Incarceration: Pathways out of Indigenous imprisonment. Aboriginal Studies Press. 

White, R & Perrone. S 2015. Criminality and Criminal Justice. Oxford University Press, Melbourne


Triangle Fire and the Rights of Immigrant Workers in the US

Triangle Fire: Burning into the Conscience of the United States

 During the early 20th century, there was a great surge of immigrants in search of the American Dream in the United States, which promised the opportunity to pursue economic success and personal liberty. Rather than being welcomed by beautiful, comfortable homes and streets paved with gold as they dreamed of moving to America, small and ill-conditioned tenements located in the Lower East Side of New York City and fast-paced jobs with demoralizing working conditions for meager pay welcomed them instead. Immigrants had come to understand that the American Dream depended on their willingness to work, even if it would cost them their life. However, one of the deadliest industrial crises took place on March 25th, 1911. A fire broke in Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in downtown Manhattan burning 146 individuals, mostly immigrant women, teenagers even, into ashes, and burning a hole into the conscience of America because it could have been prevented. Although these immigrant workers would do anything for these jobs, these workers demanded more labor rights and improved the working conditions for Americans through a massive strike called Uprising of the 20,000 because of successfully changing the public opinion on meager pay and hours, lack of personal space and safety measures, and ill-treatment by their employers in the workplace.

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 The Uprising of the 20,000 was a strike that emerged as a result of the demoralizing working conditions. The prevalent business competition in the early 20th century caused factories to operate at breakneck speed with little to no government regulations due to laissez-fair, a policy which claimed that the economic system should be free from government intervention. Thus, it prevented the government from ensuring the factory workers’ safety and well being. The employers freely did what they wanted, which was to have continuous manufacturing to get as much cloth turned into a product at the lowest possible price, regardless of the well-being of their employees because according to Rose Schneiderman, a prominent union leader, there were a vast amount of employees for one job that it did not matter much if these workers were burned to death because in the eyes of the employers, these immigrants were dispensable in a snap of a finger (Argersinger 105). According to Clara Lemlich, the leader of the Uprising of 20,000, many workers worked for seven days straight and for long hours, from seven in the morning to eight in the evening for meager pay with only a half-hour break to rest and eat (Argersinger 56). The workers in the factory earned three to seven dollars per week at most depending on the work that they do. Moreover, they get charged about two dollars whenever a cloth had been damaged and when there was a low demand for clothes. These deducted wages posed limitations on what the workers could afford; the workers ate dry cakes for weeks (Argersinger 56). Since they never had enough money to purchase new clothes and hats, they took worn-out clothes from women who earned six to seven dollars a week. Also, the factory did not provide a safe and comfortable environment for its workers as working stations were described as crowded. The women and young girls had to hang their belongings on hooks along the walls rather than having their own lockers (Argersinger 56). The owners fit hundreds of workers on each floor. It was arranged in a way that every possible space on the floor was occupied by a machine, hardly leaving elbow room or personal space for workers. No necessary safety precautions were implemented because the law did not require them; it was an option. Therefore, there were no fire drills, no plans, and even sprinklers in the factories; it was a man-made disaster waiting to happen. Other than their bosses deducting their salaries without disclosing the reasons why they did so, their bosses also treated them poorly. The women were viewed as part of the machines producing clothing because the employers did not treat them with respect as they used offensive language to talk to their workers and were yelled at and even called them names every day (Argersinger 56). At the end of the day, employees were searched like thieves. They were searched for stolen cloth and other materials from the factory (Argersinger 11). These conditions resulted in a hostile working environment for immigrant workers because they should have felt secure and respected in the workplace. Fortunately, the relationship between the workers and the public was not only different but better. The uprising of the 20,000 was the first large strike of women in the country, mainly teenage immigrants many of whom did not speak English. They demanded change by wanting to reform labor laws and alongside them were middle class and upper-class women supporters, which attracted widespread attention. They fought for the rights that should have been given to them in the first place: the right to be free from any type of harassment in the workplace, the right to fair wages and hours, and the right to a safe workplace free from potential safety hazards. Due to this, the state of New York was forced to pass new laws that guarantee workers’ safety. Although these new laws were too late for those who perished from the fire, it improved America’s working conditions overall. The documents suggest that workers are humans, they should be working in a place where they are safe in cases of emergency or accidents and the workers should be able to enjoy the fruits of their hard labor. It improved the public’s perspective on working conditions and strengthened unions. It made people realize that many do not take caution of horrible conditions unless a great disaster, like the Triangle Fire, happens.

The Triangle Fire on March 25th, 1911 was one of the deadliest industrial catastrophes in the history of the United States of America as numerous lives were taken and thousands of women mourn for the victims of the fire. On a larger scale, it served as a cautionary tale, which redefined the American industrial workplace because it made people realize the significance of working conditions. In the end, it encouraged fire prevention and inspired state and national safety codes to become more of a routine to prevent this disaster from happening ever again.

Works Cited

Argersinger, Jo Ann E. The Triangle Fire: a Brief History with Documents. Bedford/St Martins, 2016.


Educational Rights for Immigrant Students

 Immigration has remained an issue in the United States for quite some time now, and because of this, public educational systems have been faced with the problem of managing the amount of immigrants entering their schools. There is an issue on the impact of migration on education. By law and ethics, all immigrants no matter of their status have the right to public education. But because of the limited funding schools acquire, they can’t always offer the right education. Immigrants are coming into the United States for better living conditions and opportunities, and by law they are all welcomed into the public educational system. But schools are not prepared for immigrants, so in return they don’t always have the resources to accommodate them. Immigrants should be able to easily earn a public education with the right resources to contribute to their learning. Regardless of legal status, everyone has a valid right to attainable education. Tracy High School, specifically, continues to struggle with overpopulation and maintaining an acceptable amount of programs and specialized teachers available for immigrant students. 

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Tracy, California is a melting pot, where people from different cultures and styles are mixed together. In Tracy, there is an influx of immigrants because of the rich agriculture, which allows many of the immigrants to obtain jobs along with their children following for an education, “increasing levels of education and occupational specialization generates migration of people who seek to match their particular skills and preferences to particular jobs” (Castles 50). Economic reasons such as better employment chances or higher incomes based off of education influences migration. The Central Valley, Tracy in particular, is also more affordable than the Bay Area, and this is the cause for a lot of the migration taking place. Because of the financial factor, families are migrating to Tracy leading the schools to becoming impacted and forcing the districts to turn immigrants away. According to “Tracy, California Population,” in the year 2000 there was a total of 56,778 people and out of that amount only 15,724 were of Hispanic or Latino race. But during 2010, the total population grew to 82,922 and so did the number of Hispanic and Latinos, which was at 30,557 nearly double the amount in ten years (“Tracy, California Population”). The numbers are continuing to grow at an intense rate. The Tracy Unified School District is being challenged to find resources to support these children who need extra time, and to find teachers who are specialized in helping those who speak a different language.

Something as simple as education can give immigrants hope for a brighter future. The children are delighted knowing that they are making their families proud by earning an education and taking a turn for the better by opening a new door to a more successful lifestyle. In the book, The Age of Migration, it states that “education increases awareness about lifestyles and opportunities elsewhere, which increases aspirations to migrate if local opportunities no longer match rising life aspirations” (Castles 50). Unfortunately, some schools, including Tracy High School, are encountering budget cuts and growing populations that they have no other choice but to illegally deny immigrants the right to an education. But it is unconstitutional to deny public schooling to unauthorized children. Denying them the right of education also goes against the “Catholic Social Teaching” idea where “such laws against immigrants working or attending school in the U.S. violate human rights and undermine the common good. If immigrant children cannot attend school, they cannot fully develop their gifts for the good of their communities” (Kerwin 102). Every new law put against these children prevents them from becoming a productive member of society. But when immigrants enter the U.S. for an education they also force school districts to spend more money on classes dedicated to teaching them English as a second language or the basic general education courses. Leaders of the school board need to be comfortable with change and address the situation head-on with solutions to improve teaching and learning. Tracy High School needs to hire additional teachers who specialize in helping immigrants learn how the school system works in the U.S. In some cases when the schools don’t turn away immigrant students but also don’t have the funds to cover more teachers, they have to deal with overpopulated classes. Even though this option does save money, some immigrant children may need extra time with learning the basics and this could cause problems in a classroom with only one teacher.

 Schools need to learn how to adjust to the evolving population and add more classes for those who are learning English as a second language. The article, “The Education of Immigrant Children” expresses that “even though one out of every four children in the United States is an immigrant or the U.S.-born child of immigrants, many schools are ill-equipped to meet their needs” (Harvard Graduate School of Education).  Immigrant youth usually are in the process of learning two different languages, yet Tracy High School is having difficulty figuring out how to help them succeed. Utilizing various types of communication in the classroom, alongside supporting the immigrants’ native language, takes time and practice. While immigrant children are forced to explore various societies, the Tracy Unified School District is struggling to create systems for supporting this “cultural straddling,” (Harvard Graduate School of Education). Language barriers are also very common when addressing the education issue. At Tracy High, some children are forced to spend most of the day in a classroom where they can’t understand the teacher. Especially without appropriate English training, these children are destined for academic failure. Despite this, the majority of immigrant children are not receiving the level of English instruction they need in order to succeed. “Many of them fall further and further behind, especially because their caregivers’ lack of familiarity with U.S. law and of the requirement that school districts are to provide appropriate language learning skills prohibits them from effectively advocating on behalf of the child” (American Bar Association). All children legally have the right to free and appropriate education. Furthermore, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights conceives of human beings as “born free and equal in dignity and rights,” and recognizes that everybody, including immigrants, has an “inherent dignity” and the “right for human fulfillment and flourishment” (Kerwin 94-95). Tracy High School is going against the Declaration of Human Rights by placing immigrant children into only English speaking classrooms and not providing them with the correct resources for them to reach their full potential.

Because of the illegal choices made, the Tracy Unified School District has put together a new plan to allow all immigrant students into their schools. Tracy High School is now committed to meeting the educational needs of all immigrant children with quality specialized programs, even though they lack in the budget aspect. Tracy High School created a manual for the children who are English learners, which states that “the English Learner programs are designed to help children develop English language proficiency as rapidly as possible while still maintaining their cultural identity, ensuring acquisition of skills and knowledge necessary for success in academic courses taught in English” (“District Master Plan for Services to English Learners”). The program also provides information to the parents in English, as well as their primary language. The overall goal for the English Learner program is to have the children achieve communication in English and academic skills to further their development for State and District standards. Every English learner is annually tested for their development and academic progress. Tracy High School has improved tremendously in the accomplishment of creating a program dedicated to those migrating to the U.S. Though the school faces different issues on a daily basis regarding overpopulation and immigrants, they try and focus on the children who are in need of basic education. 

Tracy High has met the needs on an educational basis, but now they must also focus on the mental health of these immigrant students. Crossing the border can lead to mental health issues for the youth who have to experience the appalling journey to the U.S. Having to undergo the trek to a different country then being shoved into a new diverse community, that one is not accustomed to, can cause anxiety or behavioral changes. “Children who experience trauma may have a harder time reaching their full educational potential without specialized assistance” (American Bar Association). As stated above, many of the children arriving from other countries have experienced distress, either from their native countries or on their adventures to the United States. Moments such as seeking asylum can be traumatic because their lives were possibly in danger before being saved due to non-refoulement, where once an immigrant steps foot on U.S. territory they have the right to seek political asylum and they also can’t be sent back to their country if they are facing persecution. Immigrants can face social impacts as well, such as having no friends because they do not speak the same language or can be belittled for the way they dress. All of these issues are the main reasons as to why immigrant children need counseling in the new schools they attend, such as Tracy High School.

Works Cited

Castles, Stephen, et al. The Age of Migration. 5th ed., Guilford, 2014.

“District Master Plan for Services to English Learners.” TUSD Board of Education, 22 Aug. 2017.

Kerwin, Donald. And You Welcomed Me: Migration and Catholic Social Teaching. Lexington Books, 2009.

Konings, Priya. “Protecting Immigrant Children’s Right to Education.” American Bar Association, 1 Mar. 2017,

Tamer, Mary. “The Education of Immigrant Children.” Harvard Graduate School of Education, 11 Dec. 2014,

“Tracy, California Population:Census 2010 and 2000 Interactive Map, Demographics, Statistics, Quick Facts.” CensusViewer, 2011,