More than 500 new citizens attended the July 4 swearing-in ceremony at Seattle Center. But how many of them will actually stay in America?
You must think that’s an odd question.
But there are many immigrants who leave the country after getting their priceless U.S. passports. I hate to admit it, but some of my friends and relatives have done this. My family was huge when we immigrated to this country more than a decade ago. Now, nine have returned to Hong Kong and only one remains.
When China reclaimed Hong Kong, my relatives were concerned that they might have to relive what their parents had experienced during the Communist purge in the 1950s and 1960s. America was their escape.
Now that China has emerged as a world power, they no longer see it as a threat, so they have gone back.
Another reason they like their U.S. citizenship is that this country provides better access and opportunities in education than their native lands. After their children acquire the best education in America, including degrees from Ivy League schools, they leave the United States for very good jobs back home.
The most important reason many people cannot stick around has to do with their failure to fully assimilate in this country. They miss not only their friends and community back home, but the food and culture as well. With their U.S. passports, they go home feeling secure as America is their safe haven if the Communist government drastically changes Hong Kong.
At first, I was a little disappointed with my relatives for leaving America. It seemed that they got all the benefits from America and left without saying thank you.
Then I realized America has changed my relatives for the better. They have taken local elections more seriously in Hong Kong. And they even voted for President Obama in 2008. That’s my consolation.
Civic participation is a learned process, and for that, I credit America. ♦