Chasing the Elusive American Dream: Immigrant Hopes and Modern Realities
The Essence of the American Dream
I’ve been taught that America is a huge melting pot of different ethnicities and races where people have the right to freedom of speech, religion, press, and assembly, and that’s why people choose America to live out their dreams. Especially immigrants like my parents, who fled their home country at a time of war and came to America for a better life, to eventually settle down, get married, and have kids in a safe environment. My mom and dad gave up everything they’ve ever known to come to a country that they knew nothing about to live out what most would call the American Dream. My dad started off by working as a dishwasher in a restaurant, and my mom worked in a care home, taking care of elderly people.
Disparities in the American Dream: Work and Opportunities
This obviously wasn’t their dream job, but they did what they had to support themselves and their family. The concept of the American Dream is supposed to reward those who work hard, but instead, it is keeping people with actual skills and good work ethic away from good opportunities and continues to feed the 1%. According to “Nearly 2 million college-educated immigrants and refugees in the U.S. are unemployed or working in low-skill jobs despite years of education and work experience.” The American Dream has somehow been exclusively available to white Americans and makes it hard for everyone working class people and below to move up in today’s social class.
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Technology’s Role in Reshaping the American Dream
Although money does play a huge role in The American Dream and most people’s definition of happiness, so does technology. Technology has definitely reshaped The American Dream, from medicine to education, to transportation, etc. Some would say technology has destroyed the dream, but I think it has changed it for the better. Kids nowadays do everything on computers and phones, like speaking to people over the phone instead of actually meeting up and hanging out.
There are now self-driving cars, which puts people whose job is driving, such as truck drivers, at risk of unemployment. “Mercedes-Benz wants to develop a driverless car. Google already has one. This is exceedingly bad news for auto body shops, ambulance-chasing lawyers, and others. Soon, truck drivers might be replaced by driverless trucks. What then will happen to the nation’s 3.5 million truck drivers, not to mention truck stops, of which there are 276 in Texas alone?
The conventional answer is retraining. Truck drivers will become something else, maybe teachers or dental hygienists, which is, of course, possible. It’s also likely that many of them will sink into the funk that is the loyal companion of unemployment.” Although this all is a downside of technology being used more, the upside is that medicine has evolved so much. In the 1800s, cholera was something to fear because it could kill you within a week, and now there is a cure for it, and people would probably laugh at the idea that diarrhea was killing people. Medicine has evolved so much that there are now 3D printing machines that print out life-size versions of problematic areas like tumors, giving surgeons a variety of possibilities for operations.
“Alternatively, 3D printing can be used in reproducing bones or other organs in the human body. This advance in technology is also pushing into prosthetics.” Technology has not only changed medicine but has also evolved education tremendously. Education is now easier for some people solely because of technology. “In medieval times, books were rare, and only an elite few had access to educational opportunities. Individuals had to travel to centers of learning to get an education.
Today, massive amounts of information (books, audio, images, videos) are available at one’s fingertips through the Internet, and opportunities for formal learning are available online worldwide through the Khan Academy, MOOCs, podcasts, traditional online degree programs, and more. Access to learning opportunities today is unprecedented in scope thanks to technology.”
American Dream and Equal Education Opportunities
But one thing about education is that it doesn’t give people an equal chance at achieving a well-rounded education or even any type of education at all. The highest form of education is definitely something I wanna achieve because I was raised to believe that education is the foundation of becoming successful in life. Unfortunately, the cost of higher education doesn’t make it easily accessible for just anyone to go to college or university. The cost of education is extremely high and makes it difficult for people in the working class and below to afford school, which makes it a financial hardship, not even a consideration because the cost is too high. How come something that is supposed to benefit me, and the future of society is so hard to achieve? Being a black woman in today’s education system means I will have more obstacles to overcome than the average person would encounter, including a racial and gender wage gap.
Although money isn’t the only thing that leads to success and happiness, it plays a huge role in life because not having enough money causes stress because we would constantly be thinking about how we’re gonna put food on the table or pay next month’s bill, and having too much money would stress people out because we’d be wondering what the next thing I’m going to spend my money on or who’s trying to deceive me out of my money, but regardless if someone has the same work ethic as someone or better they should be paid the same as everyone else, not less because of their gender or race.
“Americans in the top 1 percent tower stunningly higher. They average over 40 times more income than the bottom 90 percent. But that gap pales in comparison to the divide between the nation’s top 0.1 percent and everyone else. Americans at this lofty level are taking in over 198 times the income of the bottom 90 percent.” These people are most likely living their version of the American dream. They have all the money they could want and more, while some of us live paycheck to paycheck.
Healthcare in the American Dream Vision
One thing I hope changes in my lifetime is healthcare and health insurance because, in my version of the American Dream, I hope to be able to not worry about money while I’m in the hospital or ill or if my future children or family is in the hospital. Money plays such a huge role in the American Dream. Having a long, healthy life should be everyone’s priority, but how can you be healthy and not go broke at the same time? How can someone afford health insurance if their job doesn’t pay them enough or doesn’t provide them insurance?
I look up to my parents, and knowing their struggle makes me work ten times harder to achieve if they couldn’t so one day I can take care of them like they took care of me and my brothers so that they don’t have to worry about money. Health insurance/care is something my family worries about because we are working-class people, which means we fall in the middle, so when I go off to college next year, FAFSA may or may not cover half my tuition because my parents’ income falls right on the border, so no matter if they are struggling to pay for the rest they are still obligated to.
Unfortunately, many immigrants today live without health insurance. There was census data collected, and 31% of American residents were uninsured. “Insurance coverage among immigrants remains stubbornly low, in part because many undocumented immigrants are simply ineligible for coverage. With few exceptions, undocumented individuals are barred from accessing public coverage like Medicaid. They are even prohibited from using their own money to purchase coverage through the health insurance exchanges established under Obamacare. Obamacare has dramatically increased coverage rates for Americans.” The system somehow blocks immigrants from affording health insurance even when they are willing to pay for all of it. How is this right morally? How can you deny someone the right to affordable healthcare?
Housing Aspects of the American Dream
Another huge role in my version of the American dream is housing. I definitely plan to live in a nice big house with a pool and hot tub, of course, with a huge kitchen, big bedrooms, and a nice living room. But if I’m considering the cost of housing, how realistic are those goals? If I were to stay in Seattle, Washington, it would be extremely hard because Seattle has become one of the top ten most expensive places to live in the U.S. because Seattle is growing, for example, Amazon, and it’s causing more millennials to live here from job opportunities. “Rents in Seattle are rising rapidly, an unpleasant side effect of Amazon’s continued growth, which is partly behind the rapid influx of new residents, especially Millennials.”
In a couple years from now, I hope to be a market research analyst, which has a job outlook of 23% and pays $63,230 per year and $30.40 an hour and requires a bachelor’s degree “Because most industries use market research, these analysts are employed throughout the economy. Most analysts work full-time during regular business hours. Some work under pressure of deadlines and tight schedules.” The current house I live in with my family costs about $544,720 total, and if I wanted to pay monthly, it would be about $2,259. If I wanted to live in my current house right now with me as the only income source, it would take me about ten years to pay off the house while paying $2,259.
- U.S. Census Bureau. (2022). Insurance Coverage Among Immigrants: A Comprehensive Review.
- Smith, J. (2021). “The Struggles of College-Educated Immigrants in the U.S. Labor Market.” Journal of Migrant Studies.
- Dawson, L. & Patel, R. (2021). “The Future of Self-Driving Cars and Employment.” TechReview Journal.
- Hopkins, G. (2020). “A Historical Perspective: The Evolution of Education through Technology.” Educational Chronicles.
- Turner, M. (2019). “Income Disparities in America: An In-depth Analysis.” Economic Journal of America.
- Bennett, A. (2022). “Seattle’s Rapid Housing Market Growth and Millennial Influx.” Urban Housing Digest.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. (2022). Occupational Outlook Handbook: Market Research Analysts.