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The KUT Longhorn Radio Network Presents: Mexican American Experience Collection

Audio recordings including interviews, music, and informational programs related to the Mexican American community and their concerns in the series "The Mexican American Experience" and "A esta hora conversamos" from the Longhorn Radio Network, 1976-1982.

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Chicanos And The Welfare System: Part I
Program #

Social Issues, Welfare
Alejandro Saenz
Andres Tijerina
Aug 2, 1977

Chicanos and the Welfare System: Part I

Dr. Andres Tijerina discusses the results of a survey of elderly Mexican Americans and their access to government assistance in Austin, Texas. He sampled 163 Mexican-Americans over 65 who received a supplemental security income (SSI) from the federal government to determine their health needs, their access to health care and their attitudes towards government agencies, of which only two used English in their interviews. He focused specifically on Mexican Americans because the Department of Welfare wanted him to uncover the ethnic and cultural factors that affect people’s health. He is using the survey results to plan a course for social workers who are unfamiliar with Mexican American culture and values.

His survey found that over 50% of respondents suffered from eyesight problems to receive care, 22% had hearing problems and 62% had dental problems, all of which were covered by Medicaid. In many instances, welfare caseworkers had not noticed their health problems or the respondent had declined assistance. Moreover, many of the elderly had become socially isolated, alienated by language issues, poverty, an illiteracy. Moreover, government programs exclusive focus on aid for people who live alone helped alienate elderly from their families.

His survey also revealed that many Mexican Americans feel wary around social workers and suspicious of government aid, tensions that date back to the 1930s when relief and welfare agencies pushed to repatriate Mexicans en masse, including citizens. Another survey showed that case workers across the state held negative attitudes about Mexican-Americans and displayed an ignorance of their culture.


Center for Mexican American Studies | Department of History | The Benson Latin American Collection

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