Study: Scoping Review of Social Work Research with Immigrants in Canada
The Social Invisibility of Race and Immigration Status: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Social Work Research with Immigrants in Canada
This paper employs a critical multicultural lens to analyze how immigrants and immigration status is defined and understood in social work research in Canada.
Canada's immigrant population has grown steadily in recent decades, with one in five people today having immigrated to Canada during their lifetime. Given that the majority of immigrants are also racialized as "visible minorities" in relation to Canada's history of white settler colonialism, immigration is the primary driver for ethnic and cultural diversity, but also social stratification.
At present, an estimated 80% of immigrants entering Canada have temporary legal status as international students, temporary workers, or refugee claimants, with an unknown number of undocumented people. While there is robust literature on anti-racist and multicultural practice with immigrants in Canada, terminology used to identify immigrants in social work research is often ambiguous and lacking attention to how legal immigration status impacts immigrants' health and well-being.
Through a scoping review of peer-reviewed social work research in Canada published between 2010 and 2020, we provide a critical analysis of a) how social work research defines immigrants or immigration status and b) some of the key findings from research that involves immigrants who have a precarious immigration status in Canada and their recommendations for social work practice.
Our findings point to the continued structural invisibility of immigration status as a social determinant of health and well-being. We discuss implications resulting from gaps in knowledge in social work research, and recommendations for future research with immigrants.