Unfair Treatment of Immigrant Workers

Unfair Treatment of Immigrant Workers

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As the airbus 300 made its final approach along San Francisco international airport, I saw the Golden Gate Bridge sitting on its splendor lit by the rising sun. I then closed my eyes and said to myself “I am finally here.” Thus, my journey in search of a better life began. A few minutes later I was off the plane and was already making my way to the customs and immigration check point. I handed my papers to the immigrations agent, he took a look at my passport and documents and without asking any questions handed them back to me, smiled and said, “Welcome to the United States.”

Two months after arriving in the United States, I found myself working long hours and struggling with homesickness. I also discovered the racial tensions and discriminations that were directed at every foreign Information Technology worker. My discovery was also augmented by the comments made by one of my white American born co-worker named Al. He said, “We are being invaded here, they are taking away our jobs”- referring to the arrivals of more and more foreign IT workers. Not only that, my company was also discriminating us and we were not properly compensated as the signed contract indicated.

Before a foreign national could work for a United States company and could come to work in the United States, a contract is required by the Department of Labor that would state how much this particular person would be paid, and that the salary must not be lower or greater than the current existing wage on his field of specialty. Then, the company must submit that same contract to the Department of Justice before a visa could be issued.

In my case and for many other foreign workers, our contract which was approved by both departments was breached. We were not even paid half of what the signed contract stated. We worked long hours without compensation. And by the end of the year our W2s’ proved it. And every time we asked or complained, the company would then ask us how much our salary was in the Philippines, and then they would ask us to compare it to what we are making here. And if that answer would not satisfy us, they then would threaten to cancel our visa. Therefore, all I can do is bite my tongue, put up and look at the bright side- I am are here and someday I will get my greencard and I then will be able to live the American dream.

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I came to this country by myself. I left my wife and my son behind. But during the first couple of months that I was here, I filed a petition so my family can join me here
in the United States. It took me four years to see and to be together with my family once again. It took the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services four years to approve the petition. I filed for our greencard at the same time I filed for their petition to come here, but until today I still do not know where our greencard application stands. My son’s visa just recently expired. But six months prior to the expiration of his visa a petition was already filed for an extension of his stay. It has been eight months now, my son’s visa had expired and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services with ample time to render a decision wasn’t able to do so. Technically, my son’s staying here can be called illegal. Now, let me ask you this, “Is it my fault that my son became illegal?”

Lately, a hot new bill is being debated in the senate, a bill about immigration and about illegal immigrants living in the United States. The bill proposes to make 12 million illegal immigrants criminals and deporting many of them. Imagine watching the news in the television and what you see is the appalling site of police officers pulling crying children away from their families. Sure you can say, “That’s the price you pay of the life you chose.” And I can say, “I and my family came here legally, why can’t these people do the same?” But to me it is not as simple as black or white. What if the policy is partly to blame? What if the ineptitude and incompetence of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services drove this people to just cross the border rather than immigrating here legally. In my case I waited four years for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to render a decision on my family’s petition. Four years is long time, I missed a lot within those four years. I missed my sons’ first step, I missed his first bike ride, and I missed his first birthday. A lengthy and expensive process I am not willing to undergo again. I can not fault these people coming here illegally.

Behind all these immigration debate, behind the avalanche of reasons and accusations that immigrants, be it legal or illegal are draining the economy, sponging the welfare system and taking advantage of Medicare or Medicaid are all nothing but a mere smoke screen to cover the real intentions behind such a bill. Because the real reason behind it has always been about cultural protectionism and fear of change. A country of immigrants making laws that deter immigration to the United States, legal or illegal.

People from different corners of the world of diverse cultures come here for various reasons. Some came here for religious freedom, some came to escape persecution and others came to live the American dream. I came here in search of a better future. My views have changed since I first set foot on this foreign shore. My opinion has greatly changed since I first arrived in San Francisco. I have seen that the Golden Gate Bridge is more magnificent from afar rather than from within. I have come to question whether the inscription at the foot of the statue of liberty is just a lie. People describe America as the world’s melting pot. Americans talk of diversity, but how can a country talk of diversity and yet talk about immigrants stealing jobs from native born Americans?

The people I have met might not be as welcoming as the immigration agent that greeted me at San Francisco International Airport, the Golden Gate Bridge might not
have the inscription of “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free”, but I still believed that in this country everything is possible, that in this nation your dreams could come true. I still hoped that someday, I would be able to live the American dream, the dream which has been so elusive to me.
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