Eager to make it in America

Via Mercury News
08/08/2006

A common perception is that illegal immigrants are uneducated laborers with few opportunities at home. This family smashes that stereotype.

For many immigrants, few things represent the American dream like a
home of their own. So it was a proud day for a Thai immigrant and her
three adult children when they pooled their resources to buy a
five-bedroom, two-story home in Sacramento last August.

But their success story is in jeopardy. Two of her children —
college graduates who gave up promising careers in their homeland —
are illegal immigrants at risk of deportation.

The family’s story illustrates an often overlooked reality about
immigration. A common perception is that illegal immigrants are
uneducated laborers with few opportunities at home who gratefully take
menial jobs in America. Yet, a quarter of undocumented immigrants have
at least some college education, with 15 percent holding a bachelor’s
degree or better, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.

Their story also debunks another common assumption about
undocumented immigrants: The Thai family didn’t cross the border
illegally, but entered the country with valid visas, like almost half
of the nearly 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the United
States. A full 90 percent of illegal immigrants who are not from Mexico
or Central America are visitors who have overstayed their visas,
according to another Pew report.

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