For a long time, United States has been the center of attraction for most immigrants from third world nations (Borjas 12). Majority of these immigrants come to United States in search for employment and better lifestyle. For years now, United States has opened doors for people seeking religious, economic and political refuge as well as those who mainly come for adventure, seek fortune and exploration. This paper provides information based on findings of an interview with an immigrant concerning their experiences adapting to life in the United States. The papers provides personalized narrative ofinterviewee’s experiences.
I interview a Mexican immigrant called Juan Manuel. He came from Guerrero, Mexico. His father was mason and his mother was not employed. He come from a family of eight siblings and he was the fifth born. He is 32 years old and came to United States five years ago.His main reason of leaving Mexico and coming to United States was based on the need to seek better living standard and employment. His parents struggled to ensure all his siblings got an opportunity to study and at least get a college certificate. However, Juan Manuel passed well in my high school education and got a chance to study in University of Sonora (Universidad de Sonora), where he studied Bachelor of Science electrical engineering. He had much expectations in life after taking the course of his dream. He though there will be many opportunities already waiting for him after university studies. To his surprise, the opposite was true. After undertaking his degree, he sought for job for four years without success.
Juan was determined to make it in life. This compelled him to move almost everywhere, knocking every door and asking for an opportunity to work. He visited wholesalers, local distributor, skin tanners, mill factories, coffee processors, hotel industries, beverage industries, security companies and many others in Guerrero. Guerrero is one of the poorest regions of Mexico. Low living standard in this region has seen many people die of poverty related diseases. Lack of adequate facilities to support economic development is the biggest challenge in this area. The area is prone to starvation that compel people to relay of donor relief for food. High level of unemployment has seen many youths turn to drug addictions and criminal activities in the area. However, there are few rich people who have exploited the poor. The gap between the rich and the poor is far too wide. The poor are made to serve the rich, who exploit them by paying them little wages on odd jobs. After much struggle, Juan decided otherwise, that Guerrero was not fit for him. He moved to Mexico City but there were no opportunities for him yet. This prompted him to consider other opportunities in another country. United States shares a common border with Mexico. There are many people who have crossed the border legally and sometimes illegally to seek greener pastures in United States. In fact, majority of immigrants from United States come from Mexico. His friends encouraged his to consider moving to United States to seek better job opportunities, and advice which he considered wise and gave it a try. He moved to United States.
On arrival to United States, he faced many challenges that almost compelled him to go back to his country. Getting a job in United States was a great challenge. It was not easy as he had thought. Despite having a good education background from his country, many employers in United States did not recognize his certificates. He was compelled to seek other odd jobs that were far from his career options. The American environment was not favorable to Mexican culture and language barrier were quite a drawback. Most of the natives treated him as less equal, and inferior to others because of his origin. His experience in the American territory changed his perception about United States. It took some time before he adapted to American culture and climatic condition.
Having left Mexico with little money to cater for his transport and little expenses compelled him to go some days without meals. He faced abject poverty, prejudice and isolation because he was an alien in another country. He slept in the streets for a period of two months as a homeless immigrant. He underwent a paradigm shift as a result different cultural and climatic environment. As a result culture shock and new challenges he started having homesick in the first few months. Life in United States seemed too hard for him compared to life at his homeland. At least if he was in Mexico, he could not have slept in the street. In the new territory there were no kinsmen or anyone who knew him. He worked his way out without depending on anyone. However, sometimes sympathizers would offer temporary accommodation for him as he sought job to sustain himself.
There were increased stereotypes that he was a criminal, an illegal immigrant who should be deported back to Mexico and he could be humiliated in public because of his Mexican accent. However, he faced the reality and prejudicewith great humility hard working to fit in the hostile society. He had to overcome these stereotypes and at one time conveyed some immense sentiments to some American natives which led to heated exchange of words. He had to explain and use all the rational reasons to make the Natives understand that despite have different origin, he can significantly support American economy by offering his knowledge and experience. He was often offended by reckless comments by the Natives about his country. Most natives believed that immigrants were a disgrace to their society. They carried the notion that immigrants deprived them their chance of getting jobs and increased competition in employment market.
After a period of six month, he learned a lot about American society that made him relate well with majority of the Natives. After some time, he moved from Maryland to Portland Oregon where he got a job in processing factory as a technician. He settled in Oregon and started making new friends in the new locality. The food in the new region was completely different from the one he was used to in his native land. The main encouragement in his new place of work was that there were many immigrants working in the same factory thus they could share some common problems and for once feel at home. There were other immigrants from Mexico who could speak the same language as him. Getting people who understand you language and customs in a foreign land in a great encouragement to the immigrants. Some of the immigrants who came earlier would share much experience and guide the new immigrates of how to get vital documents that could support their stay in the foreign land.
However, the plight of the immigrants remains a key concern in almost all American states. Immigrates are considered a threat by most natives to their resources and wealth distribution. They are treated like aliens who have less rights and privileges. In most cases, their academic qualifications mean nothing to the employers. The employers exploit them by giving them odd jobs and paying less wages than the natives. The landlords take the greatest share of their income because of high charges in the house rent. The only way to compensate for their little salary is working part time for commissions to get enough money to sustain their families. They lived in worst overcrowded conditions. Immigrants are compelled to share rooms that lacks proper sanitation and drinking water. The living condition in such area make them vulnerable to communicable diseases that often strike as an epidemic.
Health disparities are not only a great concern to the immigrants but also to the entire American society (Borjas 25). The white people have better health status than the African Americans and other groups that comprise of immigrants. This came as a result of discrimination among and uneven distribution of resources. Job disparity is another concern affecting United States. The African American along with other marginalized groups are the most disadvantaged lot in terms of employment. Most immigrants work in private entities because of vast requirements demanded by government bodies. In these private companies and organizations, the immigrants are greatly exploited because they are not allowed to join unions that can check their grievances. Disparities in education is another concern that cannot be overlooked. The kind of jobs that immigrants do cannot allow them join colleges or academic institutions to boost the academic knowhow. Also, unlike other workers, the immigrants are denied opportunities such as workplace training programs to deprive them vital knowledge that would see them ascend the employment ranks. They are mostly compelled to work extra hours in order to be able to meet their daily expenses and send some money to their kinsmen in their country.
Worst still, the current immigration policy under the leadership of President Donald Trump has send panic among the immigrants’ communities living in United States. With many awaiting to be deported to their countries of origin, there is little morale and motivation for immigrants to contributes significantly toward build the economy of United States. Some have resulted to hide themselves from the law enforcement authorities and there turning unproductive. Some have resulted to street demonstration to convince the government to reconsider its policies. This has seen much manpower wasted in streets demonstrating instead of doing constructive job. Many jobs that have mainly relied on immigrants labor have been jeopardized and at the verge of closure.
Despite many challenges and great disparities, Juan felt that there are some notable positive influence that he got from United States. Mingling with different cultural groups has enabled him have a wide view about the essence of learning different culture. He felt that his values have changed as a result of the immigration experience. Most importantly, it has enabled him gain vital skill in his career as he worked with different cultures. Unless there is respect and understanding between individuals of different cultural classification, there can be no exchange of good values and moral. Being proud of one’s culture is also important for preservation of vital values that can be transferred from one generation to another. While learning the American culture, Juan still hold dear his own culture that define his attributes.
Unlike Mexico, United States is high developed with better infrastructure and better education system. Having studied his undergraduate in Mexico, there are more learning and experience opportunities in United States. Meeting people who have studied in great institution in United States greatly inspires him in his career path. Juan is always determined to learn more from the American people while at the same time offer his best in whatever he finds to do. He believes that every challenge comes to make him a better person than he was before.
The interview successful captures vital information that revealed immigrants view about his life in United States. As conveyed by the informant, there are genuine insecurities experiences by immigrants living in United States. Immigrates are unfairly treated on the basis of their origin. It is a great challenge for most of them who come to United States in search of green pastures. A civilized society should have the best approach of accommodating the less fortunate members who come to United States because they believe that it is United States is a place where their troubles can be settled. The unfortunate situation about how immigrants are treated present a cause to worry and the need to develop critical moral values that can be emulated by other nations.
Borjas, George J. Mexican Immigration to the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007. Internet resource.