Immigrant Stories From the 5%

One of my latest pet peeves is the mainstream media’s insistence on painting the immigration debate solely in terms of the Latino community. The Asian American community is roughly 70% first-generation immigrant. Asian Americans represent the second largest fraction of foreign-born immigrants: we make up about 25% of all foreign-born Americans and about 13% of illegal immigrants. It would be an understatement to say that we are knee-deep in the national debate over immigration reform.

Yet, immigrant stories from the Asian American community are underplayed in the mainstream media. To address this parity, Karlo Marcelo has started a Facebook group to help shine a spotlight on immigrant narratives from Asian Americans. Here’s mine:

My parents married and lived in Taiwan for several years before they immigrated to Toronto, Canada when my father’s company transferred him. When they first landed, my parents lived in a small apartment furnished with little more than a mattress on the floor and a few pots and pans for cooking. Although she was a scientist in Taiwan, my mother could only get secretarial work in Canada due to her poor English. But, she eventually taught herself computer programming so that she could be promoted to IT specialist. My parents tell me that one of the highlights of coming to North America was access to better medical care that allowed for the birth of my sister and I. I try to respect their immigrant experience by making sure I stay educated in Chinese language, history and heritage.

To share your own immigrant narrative, go to the “Immigrant Stories From the 5%” Facebook page. Keep your eyes open for upcoming YouTube and Twitter accounts as well.

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