Most of us heard the rusty “American dream” cliché. It is something that denotes having the best version of a life; a good, stable career (mayhap somewhere in the restless city of New York), a good house to some county’s suburbs, social mobility for self and family, so on. I could specify more but there’s only a bottom-line – an American dream is a life that is full of prosperity according to the society’s common standard which emphasizes the importance of wealth. Wealth as defined by the majority is the amount of dollars you have in your bank account.
To many Asians, specifically those who live in third-world countries where poverty has become an adaptable thing, being able to step into America and have a work is a dream come true. It is as though their visa-marked passports were their tickets to a brand new life but, there is actually a dark side to it.
How it feels like being an Asian working in the American soil according to our fellow Asians, we will talk about it in a moment. For now, here is a little history. The first Asian to step in U.S soil were Filipino men (Manilamen, as they called themselves) who flee from Spanish ships where they were mistreated. In 1778, Chinese explorers arrived in Hawaii, followed by the Japanese who came to America in mid-19th century . As per 2012, data from the U.S Census Bureau of Estimate says that Asian-American communities account for more than 5% of the U.S population. There are even towns where the Asian American population is over fifty percent.
Going back to the status of Asian-Americans…
You see, most of the time the media only portrays positive sides of the story. Often, Asian-American workers in the United States are referred as overachievers, genius Mathematics brainiacs and lab rats who created this new technologies that are about to change history. If only the undocumented immigrant and low-wage worker become part of the general story, the picture would be very different.
For instance, in New York where South Asians account more than twenty percent of the 2 million immigrant workers, most of these people are low-wage workers who usually live in basements apartment that cost them in average $200 a month . They can’t do anything about it because they couldn’t afford to pay a formal apartment in NY. On average, a south Asian worker in NYC is only paid for less than five dollars.
Then there are the dreamers who took risks for crossing the Mexican borders. The U.S Department of Homeland Security says that there are more than a million undocumented immigrants from Asia. Most of these people are in the US to find better lives, perhaps, achieve that American dream; have a job, provide better finances for the family they left and earn as much as they could. Another issue on the rise is the trafficking of Chinese Citizens in the United States through the Mexican borders. These illegal immigrants would have to hike through the terrain of Sonoran Dessert to get to the United States. If they can make it (surviving the melting hot temperature in the dessert, I meant), they are promised to have worked in America.
Then they will have to re-pay whosoever “helped” them get through the borders along with the promise that if they are sent back to China, they will be refunded.
Some are lucky to have the job promised to them. They worked, repay, earned and at some point, managed to file legal documentation for their stay in the United States. But, there are also some of them who didn’t even made it through the boarder. They were either got caught by the border guards or have not survived from the cruel heat of the dessert.