Thursday, October 27, 2011

Immigrant America: a portrait By Alejandro Portes, Rubén G. Rumbaut

"Dr. Benigno Aguinaldo shut down his medical practice in Manila and moved to the United States. Now forty-one, he works as a nurse at a medical center in Los Angeles and makes $50,000 a year – four times what his physician’s salary was in the Philippines. “I am not planning for myself anymore,” he said “I am planning for my kids.” Back home, Benigno had noticed more and more newspaper advertisements seeking nurses in the United States, promising high salaries, sponsorship for visas, flights to Guam to take the U.S nursing boards, and moving expenses. When he asked his father what he should choose – to be a R.N. in America or a doctor in his own country – his father told him, “Son, the opportunity is in America, not here.”"

"He does not want to be a nurse forever, and he is now often at Starbucks keeping himself awake with double espressos while he studies for the U.S. medical boards in the hope of eventually practicing medicine in his new country. In the meantime, he’s hopeful for his children’s futures. His fifteen year old daughter’s main problem, he says, is that her public high school here is too easy."

The very mixed opinion on the American lifestyle for immigrants in the world today is very similar to that seen in De Crevecours’ text. The concept of opportunity provided to Benigno in this example mirrors that created with the idea of agriculture of whaling provided to those original settlers arriving in America. Today the image of “New America” is based upon monetary advantages, if Benigno can earn more money for his family “$50,000 a year – four times what his physician’s salary was in the Philippines” in America then he has no choice but to move. This is very similar to settlers immigrating to America for land where they are able to prosper and not only earn more for their families but leave them estates and income after they are gone. One concept seems to be evident in both this example and those of earlier texts on “New America” which is the hard work that goes into establishing a life in America. Here this is implied with “he is now often at Starbucks keeping himself awake with double espressos”

However there is still a contrast like in “Letters…” portraying the issue of slavery. Here though the idea that American schooling is described as “too easy” for a young girl originating from an undeveloped country is surprising considering America is supposed to be a well-educated nation.

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