The New Wave of U.S. Immigrants
So, why do people pull up stakes in their respective homelands, move their families out and rebuild their lives in another country foreign to them, and with no guarantees of any sort? There are so many reasons behind this, but one thing is sure, everyone who goes out would like to bring home the “bacon”! The following brief discussion on the subject explains for itself.
Let’s backtrack a little bit.
The United Sates of America (U.S.A) has the most immigrants (both documented and undocumented) throughout the world, hence its label as the “nation of immigrants”. Based on U.S. history, America’s open immigration dates back during the 18th and 19th century when a large number of Europeans (Irish, Italians, Polish, Greeks, Spaniards, etc, including Jews) moved to the “land of opportunity” primarily due to economic reasons, aside from cultural, religious freedom, among others. For the same period, hundreds of thousands of Africans came to the U.S. likewise to seek greater economic opportunity, unfortunately, majority of them were drawn into bondage under duress. But this is no longer the case now, some of African Americans of today are extremely successful and well off who made their country proud of their achievements.
Over the years, the US Government has made some changes on its immigration policy and later officially institutionalized them taking into account various areas of concerns, including petitions for immigrants’ family members in the U.S and those left in their home lands. As such, many of the descendants of these immigrants have eventually been integrated within the American social milieu and have been allowed to sponsor relatives from their countries of origin. Thus, their families have likewise become Americans, in words and in deeds.
To date, a highly restrictive policy on US immigration is being adopted. The US Government has imposed quotas for certain developing countries, e.g. Philippines, thus limiting the number of people transferring to the U.S., a policy that seems discriminatory for low profile countries. It has also a racist selection criteria where educational attainment is one of the measures of the skill qualities of a person applying for a U.S. Visa.
The Obama Administration is currently undertaking a proactive campaign for a more considerate immigration reforms considering the vital role played by its current immigrants, i.e. economic and social gains from migration. However, despite the said campaign, the Government still recognizes the urgent need for high profile professionals and technically qualified immigrants, particularly in research development and technological advancement. The Government plans to embrace a flexible immigration system wherein bright, talented and highly skilled immigrants with technical and research expertise will likely be more preferred to stay in the U.S. so as to help fill the gap and spur the country’s economic growth.
The influx of European immigrants to the U.S. is no longer the trend; it has now been outstripped by the arrival of Asian (from Japan, China, India, Korea, Vietnam, Philippines and other neighboring Asian countries) and Latin American immigrants. However, there were previous records showing that there were small ancient Asian and Latino communities found in certain parts of the U.S. even before or during the 19th century.
Based on latest data of the U.S. Bureau of Census, Asian countries sends the most immigrants to the U.S., even outnumbering immigrants from Latin America. It showed that there are 17 million Asian Americans, accounting for 5.6% of the total U.S. population. Of the total Asian Americans, 59% of which are direct immigrants from Asia while the remaining 41% are accounted for by their descendants.
The Asian-American Survey conducted in 2012 by the Pew Research Center (a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the World), revealed that Asian Americans “are the highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States. They are more satisfied than the general public with their lives, finances and the direction of the country, and they place more value than other Americans do on marriage, parenthood, hard work and career success.” As such, Asian Americans are now identified as “new face of immigration” and the new wave of immigrants, being the more forward looking and the fastest growing communities in the U.S.
Of the said Asian Americans who have migrated to the US, the Chinese Americans comprised the bulk of the pie, making them the largest Asian group with about more than 4 million, followed by Filipinos with approximately 3.4 million (excluding the one million estimate for undocumented Filipinos who are residing in the U.S., though there may be undocumented Chinese immigrants as well). There is a large group of Filipinos in the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Washington, Wyoming and South Dakota. Although, there is also a growing Filipino community in the states of New Jersey and New York.
According to the survey, majority of Asian Americans would prefer to remain in the U.S. under the present precarious times, with only a few expressing a sigh of regret, they would love to go back if and when given the means. The dominant reason for their US preference was purely economic, e.g., the gap between the salaries and wages in the U.S versus that in their homelands is huge. Should they have been given the kind of decent living with jobs and education for their children in their home countries, they might consider returning back and remain staying and retiring in their respective home countries.
We can fully understand why some of us pack our bags to seek for greener pastures in other places foreign to us, such as the U.S. As mentioned earlier, some move out to earn a decent living for their families, specifically for the future of their children. They are the new wave of immigrants, the bread winners, who lifted some families out of poverty, who worked very hard to raise a beautiful family, own a comfortable home and send their children as much as possible to the best schools. They are the new wave of immigrants, low profile they may be, yet were able to capture not only the upper labor market but also in other fields such as politics, business, academe, sports, music and arts in a developed country like the U.S.
Indeed, because of the dramatic gains in their standards of living, the new wave of U.S immigrants are those who continue to bring home the bacon, so to speak, that is, their dollar remittances significantly help in building the image of their home country and stay its economy afloat, while at the same time playing the role not just as “bringers of bacon” but as “beacons of light” to their own families, leading them to see the brighter, if not the brightest side of life!