Yes! America is the Land of Opportunity. It is a Dreamland. If you can dream it, you can do it in America. Millions of people from all over the world come here every year in pursuit of their dreams of freedom and happiness. After all, America is a land of immigrants. It was founded less than 250 years ago (July 4, 1776) and yet, it is the most favored destination on face of the earth. Walking down the street in New York, you will find people from EVERY COUNTRY.
And that’s what has made millions of unscrupulous individuals rich in many countries!
How? With promises of greener pastures to the Land Of Opportunity, where the streets are paved in gold and milk and honey flows down the rivers!
As an Indian-American, who has lived in America for over three decades, I have been a witness to thousands of sordid stories of individuals who have been ripped off with crores of rupees in India by “travel agents” and “people with contacts”. A lot of poor gullible people have begged, borrowed and lost their life’s savings by uprooting themselves from their country of birth just to realise on landing in America, that it was the most disastrous decision of their lives. These are the people who arrive here on Tourist Visa and end up working at gas stations and motels sweeping floors and cleaning toilets something they would never do in their own homes back in India. They get paid below minimum wages and have no legal rights.They have to keep looking over their shoulders and are afraid of their own shadows. The usual tendency is to multiply their earnings by 60 and feel mentally elated that they are making so much more money here than they could make back home. They are forgetting the fact that one dollar in America is like making one rupee in India because the standards of living are entirely different. Once you have overstayed your visa in America even by a day, your status is changed to “illegal”! Just because your visa is for ten years, does not mean you can stay for ten years. All that visa stamp means is that you can enter the United States anytime during those ten years. Your actual length of stay is determined by the Immigration Officer at the port of entry and is stamped on your passport.
Your American dream is now burnt to ashes and you are at mercy of “friends” and “relatives” who will waste no time in dropping you off their favourite list of guests and you are on your own! A far cry from your American Dream! If you have overstayed your visa, you can leave anytime but can never re-enter because when you entered the country, your picture and fingerprints were recorded!
You may argue that you know of so many people who came to America before you and have become very successful! Trust me: they are either lying through their teeth to avoid embarrassment of defeat or arrived here before the current laws came into effect.
The sad part is, while glamorizing the country, most people conveniently forget to warn prospective job-seekers that one requires a Govt. issued valid Social Security Number to be legally employed in America, a privilege, not extended to visitors.
Most visitors acquire their views of America from watching Hollywood movies and think everyone here is a Texan tycoon running around with a gun hanging from their hips. Not so. Only 5 states, out of 50, permit it.
(Not every 50 year old male jumps around a tree like a monkey while singing at the top of his lungs into the ears of a 20 year old girl he is wooing, as seen in Bollywood movies!)
Not only the employment opportunity enthusiasts who are disillusioned in America but so are the academically challenged brides! They end up being baby-making robots and to learn that their prince in shiny armor has a paramour.
The seniors are invited as they are “missed” by their kids and they arrive here just to end up being diaper changers and babysitters to their grandchildren. While both their hosts go to work, the parents are literally imprisoned in an alien land. Unlike in India, it is not customary to “drop by” unannounced at a neighbor’s house at two in the afternoon. The temple visits that they are accustomed to everyday could be 20 miles away from their home! Do they really need and deserve this?
I am sure, this will invite a lot of ire from many readers and not every story ends up with a sob. Suffice to say, better to be wise than sorry.