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American Dream or Illusion

Statistics from the Migration Policy Institute of America shows that there has been a dramatic change of population in the United States. This change is attributed to the increasing number of immigrants in the country. From the years 1980 to the year 2006, there has been a steep climb from the graph provided for by the 2006 American Community Service. In the year 1986, there is an approximate of 15 million in population of the foreign immigrants in the country. This had been increasing constantly and in the year 2006, the population reached 37+million. (migrationinformation.

org, 2007) The number stated represents 12. 5% of the total US population. Largest population of immigrants came from Mexico which accounts for 30. 7% of the total population of immigrants. The next countries that follow Mexico are the Philippines which accounts for 4. 4%, and then next is China and India, Vietnam represents 3 percent, followed by El Salvador which has 2. 8, Korea with 2. 7 percent, Canada with 2. 3 percent and the United Kingdom 1. 8 percent. As shown, most of the Americans are from the continent of Asia. (migrationinformation. org, 2007).

The five US states that has the largest population of immigrants were California which has 9. 9 million population of immigrants, followed by New York with a total of 4. 18 million, then Texas with 3. 74 million, Florida with 3. 425 million and Illinois with 1. 773 million. The large number of immigrants in the country only shows that there are many people who had settled in the country. Some of these people may have started to gain the American Dream. However, some may have thought that the American Dream was an Illusion and that living in America is a survival of the fittest.

II. History of Immigration In the year 1820’s, the number of immigrants had became over than 10,000. The increase in immigration was seen in the late 1840s and 1850s. The immigration had been in the people from the people in Great Britain and Northern Europe. Most of these people as stated in the genealogy. com had settled in America to survive because there was not enough food to support the population of the country. History recalls that from the years 1845 to 18560, people arrive in the United States to search for a life that is better than the ones that they have.

The coming of the immigrants has been welcomed then. This is so because the immigrants had helped increase the population of the country and most of them are English Speaking Protestants. When Irish and European Catholics increase, the previous immigrants had started to protest. This had resulted to a movement which had been called the “Know-nothing” movement. This movement is comprised of a group of individuals who wanted tighter controls on immigration. The fear of having cheap labor and the possible growth of a large Catholic population would increase the influence of the Pope in the country.

In the year 1870, the population that is foreign born is one-eighth of the total and the opposition to the free immigration have not stopped. The government of the United States had created laws to regulate immigration to address the protests of the pope. Laws such as not allowing the working class Chinese, the exclusion of individuals with disease and people who are insane were made. In the decade of the 1920s, the government had implemented quota systems with the National Origins Acts. The quotas had favored the British and the North Eurpean over the southern and eastern European.

During this time, Americans accept the British and Northern Europeans better than the other cultures. The quotas had stayed until the year 1965. The government had adjusted it to allow more immigration from all countries in the United States. In the Post World War II Era, the government had created ecpectations to the rules when political situations had deemed it necessary. The countries that had been under the political situations are Cambodia, Vietnam and Cuba. Now, the US government had made several laws and policies regarding the Immigration.

A Visa is needed before a person settles in the United States and considered as an Immigrant. III. Expectations of Immigrants Immigrants choose to migrate in the US for several reasons. Carol Yu had written an article in the North West Asian Weekly about the Expectations and Realities in America. An 8-year old Filipina Elma Borbe had expected the USA to be a dreamland. According to Ms. Borbe, she sees everything made in the USA is the best. This is the mentality of the Filipinos who have not yet gone in America. However, upon her arrival, some of her neighbors threw eggs on their window.

A document from Anne Frank had also revealed several expectations of the immigrants. Some of the immigrants thought that the life on their origin country was hard. Some thought of America as Heave on Earth and that moving in America is the greatest experience that they would be having in their life. Another immigrant, Maureen Tanumihardja who came to the US from Singapore had stated that she had been expected to be welcomed equally and treated no different from the citizens of he country. Other immigrants thought of the higher income that they would be experiencing when they had migrate in America.

There are more expectations from the immigrants that had gone to the US. Almost all of the expectations given by the immigrants are mostly positive. People outside the US see the country as a gold mine. Most of the people who wanted to go to the States expect the country to be literally the land of the free, the land of opportunities and the heaven on earth. IV. Reasons of Immigration There are several reasons why people wanted to immigrate in the United States. As stated in the expectations of people. Some people migrate because they would like to have freedom that their country is not willing to give them.

Another reason is the fact that the value of money is lower in their country of origin as compared to the United States. This is evident in Asian countries. In the Philippines, the dollar exchange rate is Php 41. The fact that people see the country as a land of opportunities are one reason why people try hard to migrate in the United States. This would be evident in the next few paragraphs. War and Politics is another reason why some people leave their country of origin. As stated in an article by Ed Grabianowski. In Iraq, two million refugees had fled the country. The destination of these people are not all settled in America.

However, the refugees do not care what country they live in as long as it is far away from their land of origin because of the oppression that they have been experiencing. Another is the Vietnamese refugees who had settled in Cambodia to escape the government officials looking for them. This is true in the case of Liun Thach in the article of Carol Yu (Yu, 2007). Other reasons given in the website genealogy. com, people had come to the United States to find a land to farm, to have a better education and a better job, to earn money to send home, and to practice religion without any restrictions.

Others are forced to come. V. Reality of Immigrationin America Statistics show that there are 22. 2 million civilian employed foreign born age 16 and older. Among these 22. 2 million, 27. 2 percent had worked in management, professional and related occupations; people in the sales and office occupations comprise 22. 5 percent; those who work in the productions and transportation is 16. 7 percent and lastly 13. 5 percent of the population works in the contruction, extraction, maintenance and repair occupations. From the expectations of the immigrants there are those who had fulfilled their expectations.

However many of these immigrants had not been able to fulfill their expectations. Many had been disappointed and defeated. This section of the paper would show the different scenes that the Immigrants had experienced in the land of the free. a. A Dream Come True Some of the immigrants had fulfilled their expectations in the US. An example is Maureen Tanumihardja, a Singaporean who had migrated in the US to attend college. As stated above, she had expected America as a land of opportunity, land of plenty where everyone would be doing well. She had studied to be a nurse practitioner at the Seattle University.

Maureen had appreciated the opportunities that she had experienced in the country that she is positive would not be having in Singapore. She had acknowledged that America had given her more freedoms compared to her country of origin. Y. L. Liu of Issaquah had been leaving in Hong Kong. Liu had thought that she would experience freedom in America. She had seen the Tiananmen Square massacre in China and this had made her decide to leave Hong Kong. The knowledge that Hong Kong would be returned to China one day had made her decide to go to America. Liu had stated that she wanted to have a better life for her children.

She had acknowledged that in Hong Kong his son was not doing well in his studies. Their arrival in America had been seen as a second chance for her son. In her interview she had stated that her son has been doing well enough. Borbe, the Filipina immigrant who had received an unwelcome greeting from some of her neighbors had thought recently that Boston is the best place to be. In Boston, if you have enough money you could have an education, participate in sports, have violin lessons and other education. Liun Thach who had left Vietnam and had stayed in the refugee Camp in Cambodia had been granted entry in America.

He had not expected to have earned large amount of money. In his first paycheck he had never expected to earn $200 before taxes in two weeks. He told Carol Yu that he never had money and the $200 earnings felt like he had gone to heaven. As such, he had further iterated that he would never had experienced these opportunities if he had stayed in Vietnam as an ethnic minority (Yu, 2007). b. The other side of America Although some had fulfilled their expectations, the people who had expressed their views had all agreed that it was never easy to adapt well in the United States.

It was hard to be comfortable in America as per Tanumihardja. According to her, it was not easy to feel really comfortable because of the politicians who had sometimes laid the blame the country’s problems to the immigrants. Discrimination is also present in the grounds of the law and the court. Borbe had stated that it has been very hard for immigrants and people of color to be included in the law. She had pointed out to Carol Yu (Yu, 2007), that some people make assumption about the ability of the person because of your skin color. Working hard is the key to prove yourself as a minority.

There are some who had found that reality was different from what they expect. Having a job and money had not been easy (Anne Frank, 2008). Based on interviews, some immigrants had alleged that they have been welcomed and treated with respect. However, some of the immigrants who habe not yet acquired their English skills had made life and communication difficult. However, upon the acquisition of the language, life starts to improve according to them. Some of the immigrants thought that America is a better place for them to live than it turned out to be. Others have thought of the money that they had earned.

According to them, most of them earn a lot of money, however, the cost of living is very high and that is the reason why many people are not rich. Several immigrants would definitely experience culture shock. John Macionis, author of Sociology Book defines culture shock. He had stated that culture shock is a state of bewilderment, anxiety, disorientation and distress as an individual suddenly exposed to a social or cultural environment radically different from his own. As stated above there are many immigrants from different countries that has settled in the U. S.

American Culture is not the only culture that the immigrants would find in the country. There is the Chinese culture, the Hispanic Culture and many other cultures. When the immigrants have settled in America and suddenly visited their home country. Since they have already adapted to the culture in America it would again need another adjustment when they return to a country with another culture. Isolation had also been experienced by the immigrants. Some of the migrants experience Isolation from the other because they could not really fit in the environment as they fit in their home country.

As stated earlier, some experience discrimination and this had made them isolated from those who really lives in the United States, the Americans. Another reason for isolation is the culture. The acceptance of another culture may be hard for the immigrants that is why they isolate themselves from the other American inhabitants. VI. Conclusion Immigrating in America may have been a dream to some and a nightmare to some. There may have been misconceptions and over evaluation of the benefits that a person may have when he migrates in the United States. However, one thing is for sure.

When a person migrates he or she must make sure that his expectations are not over the top. He must always think that living in a foreign country such as the United States of America needs adaptation. He must not expect a perfect life when he arrives in the country. In contrast to this, a person must seek his own identity and settle fast. He must be able to adapt to the foreign culture, the language barrier that one could experience when he or she is not adept in speaking English. Although some may say that money is easy in the States. However, money will not come if the individual had not taken a job that can pay bills and his food.

The individual must also be prepared not only financially but also socially. He or she may not be happy upon discovering that the people in the United States do not want their presence. Like Ms. Borbe, the person could experience the treatment that she had experienced when someone had thrown an egg on their window to express their feelings. Some may experience worse like being treated as unable because the complexion that they have is not white to pass as an American. Racial Discrimination may also be experienced. Some Americans think that they are the more superior race.

Culture shock may also be encountered by the people migrating in the United States. Several other reasons and things could happen to an immigrant when he is in America. Preparation is important so that the immigrant can cope in the United States of America. He or she may not be able to succeed in the first months of his stay. However, there is enough time to settle and get used to the country. The unpleasant things that could happen in the first months of settling in must be tolerated and as such, the immigrant must be determined to seek for the reasons why he had migrated in the United States.

Being successful in one’s endeavor is not done easily. A person must make sacrifices and learn to adapt in the environment and the people inhabiting the country to attain success.


Terrazas, A. , Batalova J, and Fan, V. (October 2007) Frequently Requested Statistics on Immigrants in the United States. Migration Information Source. Retrieved last March 20, 2008 from Migration Policy Institute. Website http://www. migrationinformation. org/USfocus/display. cfm? id=649

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