Broken American Dream? Immigrants' Adult Children Leave U.S. For Jobs

Over the last century, scores of immigrants have left their poor home countries behind for the golden shores of the U.S.A. But now their grown American children are leaving college, struggling to find good jobs, while watching cousins and friends in India, China or Korea post on Facebook about their exciting careers. In response, more and more of them are choosing to buck the American dreams of their parents, and move to the birth nations they escaped.

The New York Times noted the trend of "repats" -- repatriating expats -- in April, and while the government does not collect specific data on the emigration of immigrant children, the evidence is rife, experts say. 2,122 Koreans from the U.S. permanently returned last year, up from 1,319 in 2005, according to Seoul newspapers, and reported by the New York Daily News.

Keith Kim is one of them. Born and raised in Queens, N.Y., he gained coveted enrollment at Stuyvesant High, one of the best high schools in the country. When he graduated Binghamton University, however, he couldn't find work.

"I remember I sent out 50 resumes, and you know, I have a lot of experience. It's not like I'm some schmo," he told The New York Daily News. I got like two responses, so ... I came out here."

He taught English for a while, landed a job at UNESCO, and started a website for foreign visitors. Now 29 years old, Kim is a well-established gyopo -- "overseas Korean."

People living in emerging economies are twice as likely as Americans to think the economic conditions in their country are good, according to a 21-nation survey this year by the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project. And they're twice as optimistic about the prospects for their children.

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It's a dramatic change from 50 years ago, when these countries were profoundly impoverished and overwhelmingly rural. Between 1970 and 2010, India's GDP per capita multiplied an astounding 13 times, according to United Nations data. Brazil's leapt up by a factor of 29, China's by 38, and Korea's by a mind-bending 74.

"The energy here is phenomenal," Calvin Chin said of China in The New York Times. Chin is Michigan-born, but has now started two companies in his new home of Shanghai.

The new dynamism and optimism of emerging economies is reversing long-held migration trends, and indicates that the U.S. may no longer hold an uncontested edge on recruiting the brightest minds. And foreign governments are happy to take advantage, creating visa privileges and citizenship opportunities for their returning, U.S.-bred countrymen.

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Experts and business leaders aren't wholly concerned, however. While a couple thousand Korean-Americans may have left this past year, a robust 23,000 Korea-to-U.S. green cards were filed. And while the highly educated children of immigrant parents may be scouting out opportunities abroad, many see it as less of a "brain drain" and more of a "brain circulation," reports The New York Times, as these individuals build global networks, and may return to the U.S. with new enterprises and new skills.

Often more concerned are the parents of these children, who endured great sacrifices to transplant their lives to the U.S., in the hope of creating better opportunities for their kids. Their sons and daughters' decisions to return to their ancestral lands is often met with bemusement.

Kim, however, says his parents understand that their son entered a different kind of world. "I haven't thought about the American Dream in a really long time," he told the Daily News. "My parents moved there because of that. They made it, they achieved what they wanted to achieve. They gave me the life that they wanted to give me, the education that they wanted to give me. So it worked. It worked for them."

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Ralf Amok

I love the hate from the posters here. Immigrant's employers pay into ss, while the illegal immigrants never collect, do you realize how much of the ss is actually fueled by illegal workers? Also, if you're worried about these poor illegal saps who speak no English then you should seriously reconsider your own choices in career.
Another very important thing that nobody here's talking about - 3 million actual Americans leave and become expats each year, that's the greatest exodus in our history.... nobody's reporting on it.

November 28 2012 at 12:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There is another trend that I know of. Asians who are either new citizens or married to citizens are taking their kids out of US schools and sending them to school in Asia. I know of 3 people who did this. Each one of them said the same thing. The schools are better over there.

August 08 2012 at 3:19 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

HuffPost, I think I'm done with you. Regardless of political leanings, your organization uses tabloid headlines to entice people to read pointless and poorly written articles, and seems to revel in reporting (actually creating) any story that may point to a decline in American values, society, and culture. In my opinion, your agenda (whatever it may be) supercedes the quality and accuracy of your reporting and it is organizations like Huffington Post that contribute to the general negativity and hopelessness that currently reside in the attitudes of many in our country. Please spend some time pointing out what is good and great about our country, and you'll be surprised at how many people will respond positively to good news....

August 08 2012 at 7:10 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

"I got like two responses..."

"He taught English for a while..."

No comment.

August 08 2012 at 6:22 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Obama, Broke the American Dream, That's who.

August 08 2012 at 6:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to terl058's comment

From what planet did you drop?? The American Dream was broken long, long BEFORE Obama came on the scene!! With all the jobs that used to be done by Americans being outsourced by corporations to foreign countries, leaving many Americans jobless, why wouldn't these people go back to their native lands? They have the benefit of speaking their parents native language and English; so, with the bulging job markets in the second country, they're set and the 1% wins again!!!

August 08 2012 at 9:57 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to pengwen888's comment

It all has to do with taxes, trade and tariff laws. The American public ELECTED those politicians who changed the laws to favor "free trade". But the only thing that was free was what they had to work for when their middle-class jobs got outsourced.

June 21 2014 at 7:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down

What's that, NY Times? The "American Dream" is broken? Who, may I ask, BROKE it?

August 08 2012 at 5:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well, 'Bye.

August 08 2012 at 2:41 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Allison Voigt Hamake

I had a member of my staff with family in business in Singapore. He took all of his vacation to go there to build up his own business there. No doubt he will relocate soon.

August 08 2012 at 12:39 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Why bother moving to another country when you can just sponge off the tax payer welfare here....

August 07 2012 at 11:40 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

What a worthless and misleading headline. I cannot believe aol published this without presenting an accurate picture. As of 2010 there were 880,000 Korean immigrants living in the US and the 2122 who left and returned to their native country represents LESS THAN one quarter of one percent of those folks...a statistical meaningless amount.

August 07 2012 at 11:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to davidk5555's comment

A good point. But then of what use are valid statistics to the good old Huff Post, a LEGITIMATE non-news source if there ever was one.

June 21 2014 at 7:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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