Russian Immigration Essay

1660 words - 7 pages

Russian Immigration

In the 1990s the United States of America was marked with an incredible surge of immigration from the territories of former Soviet Union. “Liberated” émigrés decided to take a chance, leaving everything they had behind in pursuit of a better life. They brought with them education, numerous skills and talents. Their difficulties, however, including a foreign language, their age and inability to quickly adapt their social attitudes to new values, bogged down their feat to succeed in conquering the “American Dream” (Fox 79). Overcoming aforementioned obstacles, the responsibility of creating own fortunes and great accomplishments is now inherited by the second-generation of immigrants.

     Russian immigration has a long history in the United States, dating back to early 1900’s. Successive waves of immigration were triggered by World War I, The Russian Revolution and World War II. During a period of liberalization in the late 1970s and early 1980s, starting with Jackson-Vanik Amendment, Jews were allowed to leave Soviet Union. Even Andropov, the General Secretary of the Communist Party at a time, urged thousands of impoverished Jews to leave USSR (Khazbulatov 7). The regime however refused to allow most educated Jews and for that matter other ethnic groups especially Russian, to emigrate, despite the KGB claim that all individuals wishing to emigrate were free to do so (Khazbulatov 8). Most recently, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and opening of immigration rules, an unprecedented million Russians immigrated to the United States. As evidence, the Russian-speaking population in America surged 254 percent from 1990 to 1998. (Fox 79)

This most recent wave of immigration consisted mainly of Jewish refuges, skilled workers, elite scientists and artists. They came to the United States for a variety of reasons, but mostly to escape unbearable living conditions, constituted by a sudden collapse of the Soviet regime. Yegor Gaidar‘s failure of economic reforms to reincarnate Russia led to rising prices, inflation and further penury of its citizens, leading to the rise of social and political unrest (Khazbulatov 56). Anti-Semitic feelings among general population resonated and boomed as ultra-nationalists blamed the Jews for all of the country’s problems (Fox 80). With scientific research halted and productivity decreasing, technological sector faced financial strain leading to massive layoffs of qualified professionals. Artists also grappled with plunge of art’s value in daily life. Immigration seemed like the only solution for people who could not see themselves struggling from day to day, just barely making a living.

One of the reasons for the immigration for a specific group, especially when faced with intolerable conditions, is to immigrate to where they feel they can have a better life. Anti-Semitism which has a long history in Russia and even continues into modern times was a major factor in decision of Jewish...

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