How Uzbeks live in America and where the diaspora settles
Few people know the exact number of those who left Uzbekistan over the past 15 years. I haven’t met any statistics yet. But it is known that most of all citizens of Uzbekistan are seeking to leave for the United States, South Korea, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.
About 70% of "new Uzbeks" live in the United States illegally, as their American visas expired long ago. Most of them entered the United States on a B1 / B2 tourist visa and filled out Form I-94, which is also called the "white card" here. This is the main document regulating the stay of a foreigner in the country. It is filled in by the border service, which decides how long you have the right to officially be here. Upon the expiration of the validity period of the “white card”, each of its holders is automatically transferred to the category of illegal immigrants and in case of leaving the country may be deprived of the right to re-enter it for up to ten years. These rules are now being revised because the INS (US Citizenship and Immigration Service) has been taken over by Homeland Security.
Many of the Uzbeks who came to the United States find different ways to legalize. And do you think the majority is acting? Get married and get married. Or rather, they enter into a fictitious marriage. They find themselves American women (most of whom can be safely called “grannies”), get married and after a while receive a “green card” - the right to permanent residence.
Says a young Uzbek living in New Jersey:
- I came here three years ago. I work in a store. The visa has already expired. I can't go back, because they won't be allowed back. And what should I do then? After all, I am the only breadwinner for the whole family left in my homeland. I married two sisters, became a father, but I had to leave before my daughter was born, so that the visa would not expire. Gradually I hired a lawyer and asked him to help me legalize. A year ago, he found me a wife in Ohio, and we entered into a sham marriage. She is 52 years old, I am 25. It cost me a lot of money: $ 8000 must be paid to a lawyer for the preparation of all the necessary documents for this and for finding a suitable candidate. What can you do? I had to turn it all over so that later there would be no problems with entering and leaving America ...
The state of New York with the city of the same name is adjacent to the state of New Jersey. New York is one of the largest metropolitan areas. How to get around them, because this state is home to representatives of different religious denominations and ethnic groups. Every former Soviet person knows what Brighton Beach is. It would be an unforgivable omission to be in New York and not visit this legendary place. Brighton can be reached by metro line Q.
The central part of Brighton is Brighton Beach Avenue. This is a street running parallel to the coast, where all the key objects of "little Odessa" (as the Americans call this area) are located - shops, snack bars, Millennium concert hall and other objects with signs in Russian. Above most of Brighton Beach Avenue, there is a subway line that occasionally runs with noise. Perhaps, in the spirit of Brighton Beach, these are the seventies and eighties of the Soviet era, transferred to America. This spirit is felt in the way people dress, talk, signs on buildings and shop decoration.
In order to stroll through Brighton Beach, it is not necessary to speak English. After all, among those living in this area, Russian remains the main language of communication. Over the past 15 years, former CIS citizens have managed to settle in Brighton.
My next interviewee is Dildara, who works as a saleswoman at a local pizzeria:
- Time passes so quickly ... I have been living in the USA for five years. Before that she lived in Tashkent. She was married and had two children. Then my husband and I stopped understanding each other, and I divorced him. And, thank God, she got divorced. Otherwise, I would still sit in a concrete house and see nothing in this life. Arriving here, I started earning money. I bought an apartment on a mortgage, a car. In a word, she got to her feet.
A hundred meters away from the Dildara pizzeria, Durdona works in a bag store. She is also from Tashkent. She moved to New York three years ago and got married:
- My grandfather has lived here for a long time. He is originally from Uzbekistan, but lived in Urumqi for a long time. And later he moved to live in America. I have many relatives here. My sister recently got married, and later it was my turn (smiles). Now I live near the store where I work. I am raising a daughter who is one and a half years old, and I work during the day.
Hungry, I decided to have a snack and went to the cafe "Kashgar", which I was advised. Kashgar is the name of a city in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of western China, bordering Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, where ethnic Uzbeks and a related ethnic group, the Uighurs, live. On the street in front of the cafe there is a billboard with the inscription “Uzbek cuisine: osh, lagman, manti, samsa, barbecue, etc.”. This cozy cafe is always packed with guests. The song of Yulduz Usmanova sounds loudly inside. You enter here - and it is as if you find yourself at an Uzbek wedding. All those who enter are greeted as guests, proclaiming "kelin-kelin" ("come in, come in") according to the Uzbek custom. Having made an order, I looked around: almost all the visitors are former citizens of the USSR and the CIS. At the next table, a group of drunken Uzbeks are excitedly arguing about something, swearing through the word.
A waitress who came up, an Uzbek woman of forty-five, putting a teapot of tea in front of me, said in a whisper:
- I am ashamed of our men. Can you hear how they behave? People drink here almost every day. They have wives and children who are waiting for them. And they sit here and drink. Probably, they came to earn money to help the family. And here the money earned for drinking is released. They bothered me. Shame! They only know how to wag their tongue.
After spending about an hour at the Kashgar cafe, I travel to Manhattan to stroll through the evening New York. Here is Time Square, Rockefeller center.
On Broadway I talked with a couple of guys from Uzbekistan who sell paintings here:
- We are students. We study here. Studying costs a lot. They took money for study on credit. Now I would like to make money on textbooks. Heavy.
Seven hours by bus from New York, and I'm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where many Uzbeks are said to work. And all work for the same company, headed by Poles and Jews. In general, Pittsburgh is a major trade and financial center of the United States, one of the important centers of heavy industry: ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy, heavy engineering. Electrical, radio-electronic, machine-tool, glass-ceramic, chemical, printing, food industries. Universities, Carnegie Institute of Technology. Picture gallery.
Most of the Uzbeks living here have been working in local hotels for many years as service personnel: dishwashers, laundries, housekeeper (maids), toilet cleaners, in a word, laborers. The firm that hired them operates 16 hotels in and around Pittsburgh. Hotels pay the company $ 10 per hour, the company pays its employees $ 6-6,5 per hour. Most of the Uzbeks live here in the Green Tree area, which they called "mahalla".
Wherever you look, you will surely see an Uzbek or a representative of other Central Asian republics. They rent an apartment and live in it for five or six people - this is cheaper. Each one pays about $ 125 a month in rent.
Every morning at five o'clock three minivans from the company transport people to hotels and hotels. At the same time, they pay the fare from their own pocket ($ 1,5). The drivers of these cars, at other times carrying guests of hotels, are also from the CIS. Local Uzbeks say that additional jobs can always be found in Pittsburgh.
They work an average of ten hours a day. But there are those who work for 16 hours in a row. Moreover, these are already elderly people. A place where you can stay for a part-time job after your main job is the Radisson hotel, which is located in the Monroeville area. My interlocutors call this hotel "police", and some even call "Gestapo". The reason for this is the very rude, and at times cruel, treatment of guest workers by American personnel. So each employee of the hotel, as I was told, constantly monitors any step of the employee, checking whether he observes the rules established for the staff (it is forbidden to talk on a mobile phone on the territory of the hotel, you can go outside only at a set time, etc.) ). The offender can be fired immediately. The American personnel themselves ignore these rules, although they also apply to them.
Junior staff calls this hotel "zone". I was hurt to hear how small managers of kitchens and warehouses put out their anger and irritation by loud swearing at the migrant workers who did not understand English.
- Americans talk about human rights, they are considered the most democratic people in the world. But where is this democracy? Do you know how they mock us? They didn’t like any little thing - and they immediately kicked you out. I don’t remember the last time I heard the word “thank you” here.
There is a manager in the kitchen - Jim. If you only knew how stupid and evil he is, if you only saw how he treats us. I just have no words! There is another Cerberus in the warehouse - Carmela. He always believes that he is right and will never even listen. I was also amazed that all the staff here are following each other and gossiping. Only and discuss each other. It's even disgusting to talk about it, - said the interlocutor, who wished to remain incognito.
The girl who cleaned the hotel rooms, also asked not to tell her name, told me:
- All days of the week, except Sunday, I start work at 8 am. I need to be able to quickly clean up 15 rooms. Customers usually tip the servants. But we do not get this money. Minibar employee Christie, delivering drinks to rooms before our work, goes around all vacated rooms and collects our tips for herself. I have already got used to it and have come to terms with it. Alas, I now know who the Americans are ...
The working time has expired. Someone stayed for a part-time job at the Radisson Hotel, someone went to other hotels. Uzbek migrant workers return to spend the night in rented apartments, where they can discuss the past day with theirs. For some, it turned out to be unsuccessful, but for others it brought additional income. I was invited to talk to two women (they look over fifty). They live together in one room: a kitchenette, two beds, newspapers in Uzbek and a small fan - that's all life is. A sultry and hot evening in Pittsburgh bears little resemblance to such a native Uzbek heat.
Perhaps this sets the tone for such a sad story of my interlocutors:
- We did not come here because of a good life. There was not enough money. This is the main reason for coming here. Would we have left if it was possible to live normally in Uzbekistan? Look at us, it's time for us to stay at home and babysit our grandchildren, enjoying life. And you have to do black work in a foreign land. But here you can improve your financial situation. As a result, someone will be able to help their children get a good education, someone to ensure a normal life for the family ...
My next interlocutor, Kamila, is a girl who lives in the “makhalla” next door, where mostly young people live (Poles, Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Russians). Camila came to the United States two months ago. And now he regrets his arrival:
- You shouldn't go to America to work. Better to be nothing, but at home, than to work for one of "these". Better to do this work at home.
- Camila, and at home could you earn at least one third of what you get here?
- A man, if he tries very hard, can find a job ... In general, I didn't need this America for nothing ... And I am very sorry that I came here. I lived very well there. I was not lacking in anything. The question is, why am I here?
Neighbors began to call on Camille. And having learned that I was a journalist interested in the life of immigrants, they immediately entered into a conversation:
- Now we will express everything! And about Uzbekistan and about America! Recently, the number of people who want to leave for America has greatly increased, but not everyone succeeds in obtaining an American visa. And they go not only to America, but to other countries. We have good relations with each other, we live normally. Recently, they have become even more active in communicating and making friends. If not for the gossip that spoil everything. Some guys here began to take an interest in faith and read namaz. Very often we discuss hadiths among ourselves and look for, so to speak, the right path in life. And everything would be fine if they didn't start reproaching each other about their behavior. After all, to pray or not - everyone decides for himself. Why impose your opinion and reproach others? For example, I live with an Uzbek neighbor. Every day he lectures me, as he believes, spiritual content. And once he began to forbid me to cut my nails at night ... - a guy from Kazakhstan complained.
- Guys, what, in your opinion, is the difference between the laws in America and in Uzbekistan?
- The law is the same everywhere. If we take the laws of Uzbekistan, they, in principle, are normally developed. But the question is, who lives by these laws? In America, every citizen listens to the law. If something is not recommended to do, then they do not. Why can't this be done in Uzbekistan? It always hurts so much in my heart when they say that cotton and gold are the wealth of Uzbekistan. Where is this wealth? Who sees him? They say: the president worries about his people ... I can't say that he thinks about his nation. If he thought about his people, then everything would be different. Do you think that the president does not know what the people say about him? He knows this very well. Why are his daughters worthy to ride in good cars, dress cool and have what they want, but ordinary people are not worthy of it?
- Do you often read about the situation in Uzbekistan? What can you say about the events in Andijan?
- The Financial Times newspaper published articles on the Andijan events for two weeks in a row. In one of the issues of the newspaper there was even a caricature of Islam Karimov with an ax in his hands. The death toll is said to be 169. But we think there were many more.
By the way, after all of America learned about the Andijan events, the Americans began to be interested in us, ask about our loved ones whether any danger threatens them.
We talked for a very long time and on different topics. And I got the impression more and more that somewhere deep in the soul, each of the speakers wanted to return to their homeland. But only when everything changes. When the president resigns, when customs officials stop engaging in extortion, the traffic cops will grow wiser, and the judges will become honest. But when it will come - none of the speakers undertook to predict. "... Maybe this will never happen at all?"
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Especially for Fergana.ru The material was prepared by Samandar, a correspondent for the Uzbek service of Radio Liberty. Some of the respondents' names have been changed at their request. Some simply refused to identify themselves out of fear for their own well-being.
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An interesting fact: in the US, representatives of the Uzbek diaspora, as written uz-rek.com are the most law-abiding: out of almost 56000 Uzbek immigrants in the United States in 2013, according to the latest census, almost half live in New York.
“About 12000 Uzbeks live in Brooklyn. Immigrants from Uzbekistan come to New York via the Green Card Lottery. The State Department issues 55000 Green Card annually and in 2014-15 there were 4,368 lottery winners among Uzbeks, ”the newspaper notes.
In New York, Uzbek-Russian newspaper Vatandosh (Compatriot) is published for Uzbek-Russian residents.
In the period after the Second World War, several Uzbek families arrive in the United States; in 60 — 70, the number of Turkestan families in the United States reaches over a thousand. Most of the Uzbek migrants arrived in the United States from Turkey, and in the 80s from Afghanistan as a result of the Soviet intervention in this country. Starting from the 90-s to the present, there is a tendency of migration of ethnic Uzbeks from Uzbekistan to permanent residence in the United States under a contract or green card.
Most migrants are engaged in business, science, work in various institutions and enterprises. Part of the Uzbek diaspora is involved in government institutions, schools and colleges in the country, in areas such as the bar, aviation and medicine. Others hold positions of responsibility in the executive structures of US states. In America, according to law enforcement, representatives of the Uzbek diaspora are the most law-abiding and rarely violate the law. Among them are many exemplary families. Over the past 5 — 6 years, annually around 1000 — 1800, citizens of Uzbekistan have won the green card lottery and settled in America. So, more than 20 thousands of ethnic Uzbeks today are US citizens.
Famous Uzbeks in the United States: Sylvia Nazar - economist, writer and journalist, professor of business journalism at Columbia University; Alexey Sultanov - famous pianist; Alik Sakharov - film director; Varvara Lepchenko - professional tennis player; Milana Weintrub - actress; Nazif Shahrani - professor of anthropology at Indiana University; Margarita Volkovinskaya - actress and model; Nargiza Zakirova - singer.
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