Mohammad Wali Ferdous
Audio Recording of Interview
Ashar Ghumman shares his story of immigrating to the States from Pakistan and the unexpected nature of life in America including limited job opportunities and the distinct healthcare system. Ghumman details his time in a detention center upon arriving to the States due to being denied entrance with a visa and ultimately gives advice to migrants and asylum seekers as to how to adjust to life in America.
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Narrator: Ashar Ghumman
Summary: Ashar Ghumman shares his story of immigrating to the States from Pakistan and the unexpected nature of life in America including limited job opportunities and the distinct healthcare system. Ghumman details his time in a detention center upon arriving to the States due to being denied entrance with a visa and ultimately gives advice to migrants and asylum seekers as to how to adjust to life in America.
Topics: Arrival in the US, Adapting, Religion, Settlement, Resettlement Agencies, Expectations
Section 1: (00:00 – 10:39)
Arrival- Talks about arriving in the United States from Pakistan using a visa with fake documents. Was detained at the airport but asked instead of being deported, was asked if he would apply for asylum and he said yes. Identifies as a Muslim, which is a minority group in Pakistan. Was detained in a detention center for 9 months before being released and winning his case. Planned on going to Canada, not the US, and didn’t expect the trouble with his visa.
Expectations- Priority was to leave Pakistan and it did not go as he expected it to. Thought he would get similar work in the US as he did in Pakistan. Didn’t expect the healthcare system and it was very tough. Was expecting a reasonable job and didn’t expect things to be so expensive that one person cannot feed their family with a normal job. None of the expectations he had were met and he had to start from scratch. Received advice from other Asian migrants who can to the US on work visas or green card lottery systems. They had to start working whatever jobs they could find because they had no choice and gave him the advice to do the same.
Section 2: (10:40 – 15:26)
Culture- People from countries in his region, like Afghanistan, India, or Pakistan, told him about jobs at gas stations and restaurants. When he mentioned his education or ability, he was told to forget his experience and that anybody who comes to America has to start from a gas station. The community helped him if he wanted to go to the mosque, but nobody was willing to help him find a house to live in. The community helped him navigate the local area, but didn’t help him with settling and starting a new life.
Religion- Says people of his own faith didn’t help, but people of faith play an important role in helping the refugees who arrive. A church helped him according to their knowledge and experience.
Section 3: (15:27 – 26:01)
Advice- Advises anybody who wants to leave their country to go to a new country to research the country’s education system, healthcare system, and culture. Recommends finding how education credits can transfer to the new country so that it is easier to find a job. Try to get certifications instead of working, so that there are more opportunities for jobs. Recommends going to community college and getting certificates and degrees and shares that there are scholarships available for refugees and asylees.
Working- After a couple of months, he started working as a unit clerk at a hospital. After getting the job, his benefits like food stamps and Medicaid, were terminated. Believes that if he went to school right away, he would be more useful for his family and for the country.
Resettlement Agencies- Says most agencies do not have all the information that is beneficial to refugees and asylees. When he bought a car, a worker from the agency took him to get car insurance and he started paying $250 a month for it. Later, he found out that he qualified for free car insurance, but wasn’t told that by the worker. Says refugee resettlement agencies should be up to date with information and should have trainings with the important information.