Is the American Dream Dead?

January 21, 2020 | PBAT MAGAZINE

By Grethel Garza & Nestor Tobar 

"The American Dream is having the same rights as white people.” These were the words from a 12th grade student at FIHS. The interview was about what the American Dream means for him, he said that for most of the immigrants that idea of dream can be accomplished only if they have the same opportunities as everyone. When people heard the word American Dream they think that you can have a better life, opportunities of jobs, education and a good economy in the United States. The reality change when you are here facing what the truth is.

This topic is very important because American Dream is an illusion for immigrants that come to the United States. Many people have to leave their life behind in order to come. This topic will help them to understand what actually the "American Dream” is. American Dream is known as better opportunities for prosperity and success. With the new policy against immigrants is more difficult for them to accomplish this idea of American Dream because of all the deportations, stereotypes and racist comments from politicians. “The American Dream does not exist. I saw people working really hard and they didn’t sleep for being working.” These were the words from Ms. Tania, the counselor of FIHS.

 

All the hate that the U.S. has towards immigrants is huge, most of it comes from the government, especially the president with all the tweets he makes. But it also exists in our laws, our courts, our businesses, our schools and our communities.

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Political Cartoon

Beginnings of the American Dream

According to The Reader’s Digest, the idea of the American Dream started in the year of 1931. It was created by James Truslow Adams in the book he wrote called “The Epic of America”. He once said “the American dream, that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement.” This shows that dreams can come true in the land of opportunities, where they found a better life and motivate them to accomplish their goals. When this idea started in became very popular in 1931 and “American Dream” it has been the most popular phrase for 90 years and the idea that everyone has to live their “American Dream” and accomplished.

Adding to that in 1930 the American Dream means a dream of social order in which men and women can achieve their goals and take risks no matter how hard the situation can be. 

Realities of the Dream Today

“When I worked at a kitchen I saw people that sleep on the kitchen they just sleep for two hours, they didn’t have time to go back to their homes for being working almost all day without having rest, when I saw that I asked myself if that was really the American Dream.” These were the words from Ms. Tania, social worker at FIHS. The interview was about her experience working in a restaurant where workers were immigrants, and she doesn't believe it exist if you are not leaving your dream of accomplishing what you like it  President Trump is making new laws against immigrants. The Trump administration put the new policy "Zero Tolerance Policy" to stop immigrants coming to U.S. In April of 2018 he announced this policy that every illegal person will be prosecuted (legal proceedings against a person) and those parents who have their children will be separated from them because a child cannot be with them in detention. 

Adding to that the Donald Trump administration says that coming to America with your family is child smuggling; “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law. If you don't like that, then don't smuggle children over our border." Which this new law made harder times for many families being separated from their child. “Even when there is the dream act it can make a difference but only for young people, is still affecting adults thought, and the thing is that even when they want benefits for us and also for our families, and for that we also need our family here and separate family from their children it can also affect their future too even with the dream act." Those were the words from Lisbeth Cheng a 12th grade student at FIHS. According to ADL the dream act is a bill in congress that was passed to help children that came to the U.S when they were little and went to school here. 

Death of DACA 

According to https://iamerica.org/daca on June 28, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would review whether President Trump's decision to terminate DACA was legal. Courts around the country have already decided that ending DACA violated the law. Those who had DACA before they can still renew it but for those who had never applied, people can send the application but it would be automatically rejected. One of fewer opportunities that immigrants had, is being eliminated. This new policy make the opportunities for immigrants very limited to have a better future and continue their education, many immigrants were against this new policy even this will still work but just for immigrants that have had DACA before but don’t support most immigrants. 

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DACA 2019

Sadness at the Border

Once the "Zero Tolerance Policy" was passed. New problems begins where mostly affected were children. Jose Dolores Munoz from El Salvador tell this story about his daughter that was separate from him and they were reunited again, he tells the big impact this new policy cause on children's.

"She is afraid. Yesterday I left her crying, she is telling me, 'You are not coming back. You are lying. You are leaving me.’ Those were the words from Jose Dolores Munoz daughter. This new policy separated over 2,300 children from their parents which is unfairly because they don’t think on the effects they can cause on children. Even when this policy didn’t last long and they tried to reunite families again they cause some mental problems in children and others were not reunite with their families again because they couldn’t find their parents after they were deported. It is happening now too, the shelters are packed, full of people, kids are being separated and taken for months and their parents are sent back to their native country, it is sad to see all this happening. Donald’s trump administration is separating all of the families and are being held for a very, very long time more than what the law says.

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Government Infographic

 

Story of Refugees

“Today, there are over 30 million refugees worldwide and another 40 million people displaced within their own countries- the highest level of displacement on record. Trump administration had decided to cut the number of refugees the U.S. admits to no more than 18,000. Today this new policies are being strict with immigration so that make people do not accomplish a dream of having a better life and a better future.“ The New York Times Upfront.

Department of State, 2019

 

Fear of Deportation

Deportation is one of the scariest things that immigrants can face because they don’t want to go back to their native country, it is dangerous and if they'd go back they are risking their lives. But also they don't want to be separated from their families. President Donald Trump and has ordered ICE is the U.S. immigration and Custom Enforcement a part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), primarily responsible for enforcing federal immigration and customs law to conduct raids.

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers arrested approximately 143,000 aliens and removed more than 267,000 – which is an increase in removals from the prior year. While the numbers of individuals apprehended or found inadmissible at the border nationwide increased 68% over the previous fiscal year, the total number of aliens arrested by ICE dropped by nearly 10% compared to FY 2018. More than 86% of those arrested by ICE had criminal convictions or pending charges.

 

Immigrants make America Great

But at the end of the day it is immigrants who make America great. Immigrants have been in this country since the beginning, they built the United States, those buildings you see out there, are made mostly by immigrants, so you see they are not criminals. Those are people coming for a better future for their families, they see one reality in their country and when they come here the reality they expected was not the same as the one they thought they would see here. This idea of the American Dream has changed over the years, many immigrants came here looking for growth and find a better life than in their native countries. There are immigrants who came looking to earn a lot of money, to find a job and sustain their families in their country, but life in U.S. is not easy as they say. If the American Dream still exists it is just a small glimmer of what it once was.

 

Reality of the American Dream

“The American Dream does not exist is just an illusion,” said Jefferson sarcastically, a construction worker who waited to be picked up for a days work at the corner of Northern Boulevard and Parsons Boulevard, one cold December morning. Jefferson came to New York with the belief that everything was going to be great and he would find better opportunities of jobs than in his native country of Ecuador. Jefferson sold his restaurant to come to America, thinking everything is going to be better for him, that he would find a job easily and earn a lot of money to support his family back in Ecuador.  

But this morning, like every day, he wakes up around 5 a.m. in the morning, he goes to Northern Blvd, and he stands on the street, waiting for vans vehicles, to pick him up for a job for the day’s pay just to sustain himself and his family. There’s around forty to fifty men waiting, of all ages, some young some old. They all say it's a tough job because they take them to far places, sometimes even to other states, and they have to stay overnight too, there have been times where he doesn't get paid. Today, there are still another 25 people waiting there with Jefferson, it doesn't matter the condition of the weather they will be there just to get a day's work. What's happening in the USA right now, we can see the voice of the immigrants like Jefferson, is not being heard, and the stereotypes that people have from immigrants are not great. Immigrants come here for the American Dream, but the idea of the American Dream is an illusion, a myth that does not exist in reality.

Despite the challenges of his life right now, he is not afraid. As an immigrant he has faced many struggles. Like every immigrant had when they came here is learning a new language. When he had his first job he said nobody help him they just laugh at him because he didn’t understand the language, it was one of the hardest things that he faced when he came here, and what was shame for him was that they were from the same country as he was. 

Even before he arrived in America, he faced near death as he was caught by the guerillas on this way to the USA. He was afraid to get killed, but he escaped from them (he did not want to give any more details). In the end, Jefferson still is determined to go on. He will still come every day to wait for a job that may or may not come. He leaves us that day by saying, “I don't believe in the American dream, but I believe we all should have a dream.”