Monday, September 15, 2014

Business Spanish: Social Media Marketing with a Local Non-profit Focused on Helping Immigrants

by Ann Abbott

My Business Spanish students are working as social media marketing consultants for La Línea this semester. I will add more later about what we have learned so far from their work in the community, their questions and their feedback.

Here are some of the themes that emerged from what Muong and Lisa had to say about the work they do and the Spanish-speaking clients they serve in our local area, where we do not have a long tradition of receiving immigrants.

Rapid growth. The number of Spanish-speaking immigrants was fast-growing, yet recent. In the early 2000s the numbers increased rapidly.

Transportation. Getting a driver's license is difficult for anyone who is an undocumented immigrant. (It's not a walk in the park for immigrants with documentation, either!) Lisa spends a lot of time driving her service recipients to places, and this is especially problematic for Latinos who leave outside of Champaign-Urbana, which at least has a good bus system.

Language Issues/Obstacles. It's no surprise that this is a very big problem for many of our recent immigrants. They have trouble accessing the services that they need and that they have the right to access if language is a barrier.

Cooperation among agencies. Many of their service recipients' issues become more complicated and time-consuming than they need to because many agencies do not have clear relationships with other agencies. Things can fall through the cracks and take a lot of time to follow up on.

Domestic abuse, poverty. I certainly don't want to give the idea that domestic abuse is more of a problem for Latinos than anyone else. That's not it. It's that the life of a immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants is very stressful, and stress (and other factors) can lead to domestic violence. To complicate matters further, women in this situation are often afraid to denounce their husbands. What if he is deported? What if he is the one making money for the family?

Fear and distrust. Because La Linea works with a vulnerable population, they have to work very hard to build trust among their current and potential service recipients. This trust is often built through word of mouth.

Organizational issues. Because of the needs they have encountered in the community and Lisa's background as a social worker, La Linea is moving away from being a "help-line" and toward case management.

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