Social in the US The United s is viewed as the land of opportunity because people all over the world believe that it provides them with more and better options in life which they may not be available in other countries. For instance, employment towards economic stability is a big attraction for immigrants in America to pursue diligently. It is no wonder that through the years, immigrant population in the United States has been growing. In 2006, the US saw the largest immigrant share the country has had since 1920 with one in every eight residents of the US was foreign born, totaling to 37.4 million foreign-born residents1.
However, as can be gleaned from the lessons and insights provided by the materials in Chapter 8, the belief that the US is the land of opportunity is all but a myth. For, while thousands of opportunities are available for everyone interested, factors like language, educational and cultural factors can severely impede immigrants’ success, including those with professional credentials which they earned from their own homelands.
Sawhill, Isabel (2006) in a Policy Brief stated that while the US economy performed well, most of the benefits of such success were reaped by those at half top of the income distribution strata, especially those at the top one percent (or those with income of more than about $400,000 in 2006).
In the same Policy Brief, Sawhill confirms that indeed, class still matters in the American
Society, stressing that it takes at least five generations to totally free one from circumstances of birth or family background. Sawhill adds that as the gap widens among the income levels or groups, it has become harder for people to move up, as the topmost of the ladder becomes more and more solid and strong, accumulating more and more wealth.
Immigrants, illegal or otherwise, represent cheap, reliable labor for the American businesses. The documented and legal immigrants mostly have no education or reached only high school level, which makes it harder for them to land on high-paying jobs. Even their children tend to not continue to go to school but instead engage in jobs to augment their families’ incomes.
Education, they say, is the great leveler. However, the US does not provide equal access to quality education to its people. Majority of the immigrants’ kids go to public schools which are below par the other schools across the nation. Even the funding for Bilingual Education has been debated upon, most probably towards its abolition.
It is therefore no wonder that recent trends had been that these immigrants are going back to their homes, primarily to seek better opportunities at their homelands, and secondly to be near their loved ones back home. The US may be a land of opportunity to some, but definitely not for everyone. It is not really a matter of the hardworking, persistent winning the race. It is still a matter of who one’s parents were, where one went to school, how much power does one hold, among other factors that really matter in order to live the American Dream.
Author unknown. Land of Opportunity: In the U.S., Immigrants and Entrepreneurs Are Increasingly the Same. published March 30, 2007, India Knowledge@Wharton.
Card, David. Nov 07. How Immigration Affects US Cities. Discussion paper series CDP 11/07. Center for Research and Analysis of Migration. Department of Economics. University College London.
Sawhill, Isabel. Fall 2006. Opportunity of America: The Role of Education. The Future of Children. A Policy Brief.