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Immigrating to the USA (1)

 

Immigrating to the USA (1)

Published in September 7, 2018

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy

 

He said to us: I have come to the USA along with my wife and I intend to settle here.

We said to him: Why? If you allow us to speak frankly, you do not seem to need to settle in the USA; we know you have your own money and you belong to a rich family in Egypt.

He said: This was my status when you used to know me when you were in Egypt; I and my family belonged to the highest level of the middle-class; we used to live in Al-Muqattam District in Cairo, my father, as you know, was a well-known lawyer and had a prestigious office in the Cairene downtown; I graduated from the Faculty of Medicine and got a job in a very prestigious, expensive hospital; my wife is a medical doctor as well; yet, we can no longer bear the despicable economic conditions in Egypt; my father died before witnessing the collapse of the economy; the middle-class is about to disappear; its lowest level has been reduced to poverty. The poverty of the already poor classes increased; they live in abject poverty now. Conditions are getting worse day after day because one's income remains the same while the soaring prices increase; I and my wife are afraid to have a child, as the future cannot be guaranteed now; we explore conditions here in the USA to see if we'd settle here or not.      

We said: What have you done since your arrival to the USA?

He said: What do you mean?

We said: Since you consult our person, we have to speak frankly and without shyness; you desire to settle here; what have you done since your arrival to the USA? Where do you live now? Did you spent all the dollars that you have?

He said: I am the guest of one of my relatives; he lives in a luxurious house; I spend frugally and sparingly so as not to waste all my money.

We said: You are acting as a tourist, then?

He said: Yes.

We said: When have you come to the USA?

He said: Three months ago, and our visa allows us to stay legally for more three months.

We said: Let's speak with perfect candor; you have not sought a job here even to provide yourself with a small income, right?  

He said: No; in fact, a medical doctor like me cannot accept menial jobs or mediocre ones, you know. What am I supposed to do?

We said: Your medical degree is of no use here; you will have to pass through the equivalency of certificates and this is extremely difficult, as you know.

He said: I know.

We said: This means that if you decide to settle here, you have to accept any small job; we know medical doctors and PhD holders here who have petty, menial jobs that you cannot imagine to earn their living.

He said: I know about that, and this is why I'm still hesitant.

We said: This is not the only problem; the big one is to get a legal extension of stay to remain secure and not to get chased by the authorities and the police; the current American administration does not welcome immigrants and they have complicated measures to accept new immigrants and to lessen the number of accepted ones; this means that you need a very good, experienced immigration lawyer to help you within the loopholes of the law and provide you with any solution among the many ones that help immigrants settle here legally. 

He said: Give me some examples, if you please!

We said: Not before you stop being hesitant.

He said: What do you mean?!

We said: You are still hesitant about settling in the USA or returning to Egypt.

He said: Yes; this is why I'm asking you to advise me.

We said: You and your wife have lived for three months here; this is more than enough to decide if you will settle here or return to Egypt; you have to decide now.

He said: Why?!

We said: If you decide to stay here, you have to prepare for yourself for patience and perseverance; you will have to bear patiently with the changes in your life; you will have to accept any temporary job in any of the shops owned by any Arabs who accept to employ those who have no valid visa or extension of stay. Besides, you have to start looking for a house for you and your wife; you have to find an immigration lawyer to guide you to the best method to get a legal extension of stay; you must begin all that at once before you would breach the visa conditions; breaching the visa conditions is illegal and has dire consequences here. If you cannot sacrifice anything you have in Egypt and you are not ready to adhere to patience and perseverance, you should return to Egypt and never to think about immigrating to the USA. You live as a guest at the house of your relative and your expenditure is low because you do not have to pay a rent; renting a house here is very expensive; you live now within the standard of living of your relative; things will change once you live on your own; you will find neither a similar house nor the same standard of living. Your relative has toiled and struggled within his life for years to reach his standard of living that you see now; you will begin from scratch; you will wait for long years before you reach the level of your relative; do not forget that you are in your forties now.      

He said: Things are not as complicated and difficult as you suppose; please allow me to explain!

We said: OK; go ahead.

He said: I've met a friend of mine here; a medical doctor who was my colleague; he is a Coptic Orthodox Christian and he immigrated two years ago; he once invited me and my wife to dinner in his luxurious apartment; he has an excellent, well-paid job. 

We said: How did that happened?

He said: He told me the story: within the coordination of the branches of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt and the USA, there are documented cases of those Christians who are persecuted and they apply at the American embassy in Cairo to get the entry visa; once they reach the USA, the Church takes care of them and help them in getting the status of being asylees and the extension of stay and to find suitable jobs; part of the income of every Coptic Christian who settles here is being used to help another persecuted Copt to come here; this process goes on; this is why Copts who immigrate to the USA find little difficulties of the type you have mentioned.  

We said: Most Copts are persecuted indeed; the whole world knows of their being persecuted; they have the right to immigrate to avoid such persecution; the USA understands this very well and it is natural to bring them in as immigrants; this does not apply to you; you are not a Copt; you are a Muslim.

He said: What if I say that I am being persecuted because of my religious views or political activism as the case has been with you?

We said: This is extremely difficult to prove; you will require strong, convincing proofs which you don't have; your situation is very difficult, as you see.

He said: I see; I understand your piece of advice, but allow me to say that I'm very hesitant and I don't know the reason for such hesitancy.

We said: We know why you are hesitant.

He said (with a note of surprise): Is it possible that you know me more than I know myself?!

We said: The ones who decide to settle here and can bear patiently within suffering any conditions are impoverished Egyptian Muslims who live in abject poverty and experience hunger inside Egypt; they have no hopes to look for; others who come here from Egypt are those political activists who live constantly in fear and cannot find no refuge except in the USA; thus, the hungry ones and the frightened ones get the entry visa and do their best to remain here; they adhere to patience and perseverance in this long path that takes years; they accept any menial or petty jobs; they never waste their time; they know they cannot return to Egypt and they cannot live there anymore. Those who never reached this level of fear or hunger, like you, will compare between partial suffering within the conditions of Egypt and partial suffering within the conditions of the USA and must decide if they are going to immigrate to the USA or to return to Egypt.  

He said: What if I've decided now to settle in the USA?

We said: You wife must accept this decision because she will share your suffering for sure.

He said: Let's suppose that my wife agreed and decided to stay here like me for the rest of our life.

We said: Better said than done; the reality is indeed harsher than you think and it entails that you and your wife must change your culture.

He said: What do you mean?!

We said: For instance, we are sitting now inside this café owned by an American man of Arab origin; if you decide to settle in the USA, your greatest hope at first will be that the owner of this café would accept your working as waiter here. Would you accept this?

    (He looked at our person with a face showing annoyance, as if he has been insulted.)

We said: Your face shows the answer clearly; what if your wife would work here as a waitress like the one who has served us the drinks minutes ago?

He said: I and my wife will certainly refuse even to think of what you suggest! What you propose is out of the question!

We said: This is what we mean by changing your culture; we mean the backward culture of Egyptians and Arabs; we must stop despising jobs that do not suit us; Americans respect honorable jobs of all types. No doubt that you have noticed American blond young women who work as waitresses in cafés, restaurants, and bars and as security persons in buildings; many of them are excessively pretty; some of them are MA degree holders; the father of a young woman among them is the owner of the building where she works as security person. Some of these young women might find a suitable job but they have to accept little wages until she'd pass the test and prove their efficiency before they are hired officially; anyone gets temporarily hired and not permanently until one proves one's efficiency. This is the culture of work inside the USA and the West. Without a job, any Americans (whose parents and grandparents are white Americans) are rendered homeless and they would roam the streets like vagabonds; no doubt that you have noticed the group of beggars and homeless people near this café.    

He said: Yes, and this is a very strange scene that made me shudder! I never expected to see something like this inside the USA!

We said: Those homeless persons lost their jobs and could never get hired; they lost their only source of income; they could no longer pay the installments of their houses, cars, etc. They have lost all that; some of them are addicted to drugs; many of them are beggars and some would lose their lives between being vagabonds or prisoners who broke the law.

He said: Couldn't I find a job nearer to my field of specialization?

We said: You might, but not immediately. We know a medical doctor who holds the highest degrees but could not pass through the equivalency of certificates; he worked for years in a gas station and he adapted patiently to the American way of life; years later, he entered into a fierce competition to get a job as an English-into-Arabic translator in a hospital; his conditions are better now, after five years, and he managed to get a permanent, legal stay here; otherwise, he would not have got this job as a translator. Those who stay illegally here will have to compete with Hispanics and other illegal immigrants of different nationalities who accept any menial or petty temporary jobs with the lowest wages and they work diligently and faithfully; the Hispanics gather in certain spots; employers come with their pick-up cars to pick and choose among them; those Hispanics beg these employers to have any type of work; the employers typically choose the strongest among them who accept the lowest wages.  

He said: What about Arabs and Egyptians here?

We said: There are successful Arabs and Egyptians here; some of them are Muslims but the majority of them are Christians. Sadly, most Arabs and Egyptians (among employers and employees) have a bad reputation inside the USA; the employers among them misuse and abuse those who illegally stay inside the USA and take advantage of them. Besides, many Arab and Egyptian employees are never diligent or hardworking. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. We talk here about the majority of them, and you have to deal with this type of people if you decide to stay inside the USA.  

He said: You have given me a very bleak image!

We said: But it is a truthful one nonetheless, we assure you; you have to make up your mind after you have known what to expect if you decide to settle in the USA.

He stood up and said loudly: I will return at once to the Egypt of Al-Sisi!


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