Financial OpportunitiesFinancial Opportunities –– When people cannot earn enoughWhen people cannot earn enough
money or jobs are not available, they often immigrate to findmoney or jobs are not available, they often immigrate to find
Better LifeBetter Life –– Some people immigrate to allow their childrenSome people immigrate to allow their children
or themselves to lead a better life in the future. This oftenor themselves to lead a better life in the future. This often
involves educational opportunities and a hope for better jobsinvolves educational opportunities and a hope for better jobs
in the future.in the future.
Following FamilyFollowing Family –– Some people immigrate because a familySome people immigrate because a family
member has already immigrated.member has already immigrated.
MarriageMarriage –– Some people immigrate because they want toSome people immigrate because they want to
marry someone who lives in a different country.marry someone who lives in a different country.
Why Do People Immigrate?
Why Do People Immigrate?
Political PersecutionPolitical Persecution –– There are some countries where theThere are some countries where the
government does not allow people the freedom of disagreeinggovernment does not allow people the freedom of disagreeing
with the government. Some people immigrate to be allowedwith the government. Some people immigrate to be allowed
this freedom.this freedom.
Religious PersecutionReligious Persecution –– There are some countries whereThere are some countries where
people are not allowed the freedom of practicing theirpeople are not allowed the freedom of practicing their
religion. Some people immigrate to be allowed this freedom.religion. Some people immigrate to be allowed this freedom.
WarWar –– Some people immigrate to escape war in their homeSome people immigrate to escape war in their home
country. They often move to another country that is closercountry. They often move to another country that is closer
to their home country before coming to the United States.to their home country before coming to the United States.
Why Do People Immigrate?
Slavery/Forced ImmigrationSlavery/Forced Immigration –– Slavery was legal in theSlavery was legal in the
United States until 1865, and even after that people wereUnited States until 1865, and even after that people were
treated differently jut because of their skin color. Sometreated differently jut because of their skin color. Some
people were taken from their home country and forced intopeople were taken from their home country and forced into
slavery in the United States.slavery in the United States.
FamineFamine –– A famine is when there is not enough food grown toA famine is when there is not enough food grown to
feed the people. This may happen because there is notfeed the people. This may happen because there is not
enough rain, disease that kills the plants, insects that eat theenough rain, disease that kills the plants, insects that eat the
plants, etc. Some people immigrate to the United States toplants, etc. Some people immigrate to the United States to
escape famine.escape famine.
One summer my aunt, who already lived inOne summer my aunt, who already lived in
America, came to Greece for a visit. She jokinglyAmerica, came to Greece for a visit. She jokingly
said, “Why don’t you come live there, too?” Mysaid, “Why don’t you come live there, too?” My
father always looked for a better job and a betterfather always looked for a better job and a better
way of life. So he said to my mother, “Why not tryway of life. So he said to my mother, “Why not try
it?” It took about two years to get all theit?” It took about two years to get all the
paperwork, the visa and passports and tests beforepaperwork, the visa and passports and tests before
we could go. I heard my parents talking about it andwe could go. I heard my parents talking about it and
I asked my mother. She said, “Yes, we’re going toI asked my mother. She said, “Yes, we’re going to
(From(From New Kids in TownNew Kids in Town by Janet Bode)by Janet Bode)
Many things were happening in my country. I wasMany things were happening in my country. I was
very little, and couldn’t understand it all. Somevery little, and couldn’t understand it all. Some
people were what they called “disappeared”. Theypeople were what they called “disappeared”. They
had been captured and taken away, maybe by a deathhad been captured and taken away, maybe by a death
squad, gangs of men that frighten and kill people.squad, gangs of men that frighten and kill people.
Everybody thinks that maybe the army and theEverybody thinks that maybe the army and the
police have done that. But the army says it’s thepolice have done that. But the army says it’s the
guerillas that take them to make them fight againstguerillas that take them to make them fight against
the army.the army.
The man next door taught school. One day someThe man next door taught school. One day some
men came to his family house and told him and hismen came to his family house and told him and his
family to stand in the street in front. The fatherfamily to stand in the street in front. The father
you (continued on the next slide)you (continued on the next slide)
could hear him saying, “take anything; just pleasecould hear him saying, “take anything; just please
don’t hurt us.” The men arrested the father. Thedon’t hurt us.” The men arrested the father. The
mother and the children watched. Then the menmother and the children watched. Then the men
took from the house and left. The next day thetook from the house and left. The next day the
neighbors were gone.neighbors were gone.
From New Kids in TownFrom New Kids in Town by Jane Bodeby Jane Bode
My father was a political prisoner. He spent
nine years in jail in my country. His crime was he
didn’t like Castro. Sometimes my father talks about
that time. It was very hard to be in Castro’s jails.
They treated the prisoners like animals.
She (Jorge’s mother) waited for him all those
many, long years. That’s really love. The next thing he
did was try to come here, to America. But it wasn’t
possible. He couldn’t get a visa. So he went to work
cleaning the sewers, the job the government let him
have. (continued on next slide)
My father and mother lived in a small town near
Havana, the capital, where they both grew up. And
soon, I was born. Eight of us, all relatives, lived
together in an old, one-floor house. I shared a
bedroom with my grandmother, who I love with all my
In Cuba, the government controls your life.
Everything is rationed. Each family has a little
booklet called “libreta” with coupons in it. You want to
buy a pair of pants? You can’t just run over to K-Mart
or Macy’s or some shopping center. (continued on next
In Cuba, each family is assigned a special week
to shop for clothes, say, May 21 to May 28, and K-
Marts don’t exist. You’re supposed to go those days to
get what the coupons say, maybe one skirt or one
shirt. You get one pair of shoes for one year. Even
underwear is rationed, three pairs for each for one
year. The same thing with toys.
From New Kids in Town by Janet Bode
Hi, I am Kauthar Hassan and I moved
from Kenya, by way of Somalia, to the
United States in 2000. A civil war began in Somalia in
1991. To this date, there is still no resolution. Many
refugees escaped the war and fled to refugee camps
in Kenya. It was exciting to travel from there to here
as we didn't travel much before and suddenly we were
on a very big trip. We came to the United States
because my parents wanted better things for all of
our family, so they brought us to this country.
My father came to the United States in 1912 to
search for a better life. There were no jobs in our
small village of Goon Do Hung in southern China. My
father needed money to take care of his new family
and his widowed mother.
When he first arrived in the United States, he
did any kind of job he could get. He sent money home
several times a year, and once in a while, he came for
a short visit. After one of these visits, I was born in
Father came home once or twice that I could
remember. He could never stay long because he had
to (continued on next slide)
Li Keng Wong
go back to the United States to work. He never
mentioned that someday that he wanted to take us to
the United States, but he was thinking about it. On
his last visit home, he was sad at how poor the
villagers were. They made a living by planting rice
crops. People were so poor that no one had milk to
drink or had much meat to eat. Almost no one had
ever learned to read or write. So my father decided
that his family must immigrate to the United States
to have a better life. When we decided to leave, it
was 1933. I was only seven years old.
Li Keng Wong
On January 14, 1892, Penelope Mehales gave
birth to her sixth son in the ancient town of Athens,
Greece. Because she had once been to America, and
because she believed her sons would find a much
brighter future in the United States than in her
native country, she gave her newborn child the
popular English name of "George," not at all realizing
that this name, like her baby, was of Greek origin
and meant "farmer." The family was poor, and
George's father had died two months before he was
born, but the mother was determined that her boys
should come to America. She sold what little
(continued on next slide)
Louis and George Mehales
property she had; borrowed money from her kinfolks,
and sent George, when he was but three years old,
along with his brother, who was sixteen, to New York.
The two Greek boys were taken in charge by an
uncle who had come to America several years before
and who operated a small restaurant in Brooklyn. Louis,
the older of the two boys, immediately went to work
for his uncle. George was sent to school when he was
six years old, attending the public school during the
morning and the Greek school during the afternoon. In
spare moments, he helped his brother and his uncle in
Louis and George Mehales
I came over [from Italy] when I was eighteen years
old. I wasn't married then. I came over here to marry
Pietro [Bartoletti?]. I grew up with Pietro. I went to
school with him. We were always good friends in the old
country. He came over here to work in the sheds. Every
month I got a letter from him. He told me how good the
granite business was. He asked me to marry him, so I
wrote back yes. I came over here in August. I liked
Barre. It didn't seem strange to me. We were married
(Recorded in 1940
Hi, my name is Quynh, and I am 11 years old.
When I was younger my parents decided that
our family would have a better way of life if we moved
to this country. My parents and I moved to the United
States from Vietnam with my younger brother and
sister in 2001.
My parents were both photographers in Vietnam
and I was doing well in school, but they still felt
opportunities were here for us that were not in my
home country. Life is better here for our family.
There are many things we have here that we could have
never enjoyed at home. For instance, I think school
here is the best.
My name is Virpal, I am 13 years old and from
Punjab, India. My mom was granted a visa to move
here five years ago, after my father passed away, but
my sister and I just recently moved here three
months ago. So, it had been five years since my sister
and I last saw our mother. Up until three months ago,
we were living in India with family. Not a day went by
that I wouldn't dream about the reuniting with my
mother again. Finally, after five years, the United
States granted my sister and me permission to come
live with our mother again.