Saturday, March 15, 2014


Immigration has been on my mind a lot lately. I'm not an immigrant - am happy & satisfied being a foreigner in the US. Yet I need to jump through some mind-boggling hoops just to live here legally.

The topic of immigration is a source of constant tension and dialogue with my employer - neither of us understand what it means to the other. It affects my vacation trips back home to India a lot lately. I struggle to not roll my eyes at the people who think it's perfectly normal and ask me to give them my exact travel plans 6 months in advance. Frustrated? Blame the lawyers, the politicians, the government...

I listened to an audio book today - "A Century of Immigration" by Christopher Collier & James Lincoln Collier.

It's informative and talks about the motivations for the different immigrant groups of people who moved to America, whether they stayed or returned to their homelands, how and why they interacted with or influenced society and the impact it had on their personal lives.

The authors seem to believe that America is the only democratic country that has seen waves of immigrants who have tried to integrate and create a new multi-cultural, multi-ethnic society. They seem ignorant or have chosen to be blind about India - the world's largest democracy and cultural melting pot. People from all over the world have migrated to India for millennia and formed their own sub-societies while also becoming an integral part of a larger common society. Would be good if they had paused a moment to think about how the 'New World' was discovered in the first place.

It appears that the immigrants never fully assimilated the American culture, choosing to retain several of their own traditions. However, their descendants were more likely to be 'American' due to their schooling. From what I've seen and by my own experience, I believe that's true.

It was interesting to note that many of the current immigration laws seem to have stemmed from ideas & prejudices that go back as long as the 1920's. Every country wants to keep the 'outsiders' out, America behaves no differently.

Coworkers asked me the other day whether I plan to get an American citizenship. They seemed surprized at my 'No'. There are lots of great things about America, but there are also lots of not-so-great things, which make me yearn to go back to India.

I'm content being a law-abiding foreigner in the US and a citizen of India. Never mind the truism 'The US passport is the most coveted document in the world'.