Immigration

Reshaping the Vietnamese-American Identity
Culture, Immigration

Reshaping the Vietnamese-American Identity

By Sharon Simonson In 1974, less than a year before the fall of Saigon, Luong La lived a summer alone in a hut on his family’s tiny farm on Ship Island in Vietnam’s Mekong River Delta. While catching and harvesting the bulk of his own food — his mother left him a staple of rice — he avoids grenade-spiked booby traps and navigates a thin strip of political neutrality between roving pro-Communist Viet Cong soldiers and the U.S.-backed South Vietnamese Army. La was 11-years-old. The Viet Nam Project His recollections of those days and nights appear halfway through “Catching Shrimp with Bare Hands: A Boy from the Mekong Delta.” The new memoir, published in this 40th anniversary year of South Vietnam’s final capitulation, captures the tenor and tension of daily life for the La ...
H-1B Visa Demand Strong and Growing, Attorneys Say
Immigration

H-1B Visa Demand Strong and Growing, Attorneys Say

By Sharon Simonson Silicon Valley H-1B visa season is in full bloom, but not everything is rosy. As the April 1 opening date approaches to apply for the coveted foreign-worker permission slips, regional attorneys who write and file the petitions say demand tops even last year’s when so many applications were made so fast, the federal government stopped accepting them after a week. Stakes are high for workers and the high-tech and consulting companies that rely most on the work visas and that today compete fiercely for technical talent worldwide. The earliest a company could hope to hire a potential H-1B worker passed over in this year’s selection is October 2016. “This is the big talk right now among the HR (human resources) people,” said Palo Alto immigration attorney Marc...
Immigrants Are Driving the Bay Area Housing Market
Immigration

Immigrants Are Driving the Bay Area Housing Market

By Sharon Simonson Immigrants to this country who have become U.S. citizens are driving the Bay Area housing market, owning their homes at rates as much as 13 percentage points higher than the American-born, according to new U.S. Census Bureau estimates for 2013. In Santa Clara County, that coincides with foreign-born citizens’ greater representation in management, business, science, and art occupations and with an outsized presence in manufacturing industries. It also matches with a greater likelihood of living in a bigger house and a higher median household income—$97,000 for foreign-born U.S. citizens versus $91,325 for the U.S.-born. In San Francisco, not quite half of households of foreign-born U.S. citizens own and occupy their own homes compared to 35 percent of U.S.-bo...
A World Grows in Sunnyvale
Demographics, Immigration

A World Grows in Sunnyvale

By Sharon Simonson SUNNYVALE and MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — The Silicon Valley Asian Indian population is growing faster than all other racial and ethnic groups countywide and will shortly overtake the Vietnamese as the valley's second-largest Asian population after the Chinese, despite the Vietnamese population’s own substantial growth. With an estimated 120,000 people, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the increased Indian population is manifesting across business and social institutions in multiple valley cities. Storefronts along El Camino Real, a central Silicon Valley thoroughfare connecting multiple communities, reflect the change, with new restaurants, clothiers and grocers selling Indian foods, spices and traditional garments filling more and more spaces. At...
Change Comes in Colorful Garb
Demographics, Immigration

Change Comes in Colorful Garb

By Sharon Simonson Sagar Exclusive bills its Sunnyvale showroom as the largest for Indian apparel in the United States. It is 8,000 square feet at 939 W. El Camino Real, next door to the Chaat House, whose savory Indian snacks drew Sagar’s owners, Varsha Patel and Reuben Kanhai, to the location in the first place. “I have surveyed Chicago, Los Angeles — also Australia, New Zealand and Canada — wherever I travel, I look for Indian stores. There are about 1,000 Indian clothing stores in the United States,” Patel said. Based on square footage and diversity of offerings, she has concluded that Sunnyvale’s is the largest. It is her second Bay Area showroom — the first still operates in Hayward — and caters to customers from Los Gatos and Saratoga to Los Altos, for whom Hayward is a...
Afghan Sisters in Silicon Valley
Immigration, OneWorldCities

Afghan Sisters in Silicon Valley

By Sharon Simonson SANTA CLARA, Calif.—As young children, Afghan sisters Hasina and Somaya Qaderi scampered through dusty streets once shared by soldiers under command of Alexander the Great. In their native Herat, an enormous citadel built in the early 14th century still occupies the same site as Alexander’s fort. The citadel's turreted walls rise high and stern from the central hilltop, a weighty symbol of the 2,500 years of civilized history that underlie the modern city’s expression. Herat is 7,500 miles from the suburban Santa Clara ranch home that the women now own and share with their parents. Even that enormous distance doesn’t measure the intellectual, psychological and emotional chasm that the sisters have leapt in the last 12 years, and in some ways since their births. The ...
Fertile Valley
Immigration, OneWorldCities

Fertile Valley

By Sharon Simonson Known first as the world's information technology and innovation hub, Silicon Valley and its people are much more. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly four in 10 valley residents were born in another country, and the citizenry is among the nation's most racially, culturally and ethnically diverse. From 1990 to 2010, more than 20 million people from other countries settled in the United States—more even than the crush of European immigrants who came in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, 40 million American residents were born elsewhere, the highest absolute count in the nation's history and the highest proportion—one in eight—since 1920. Silicon Valley's population has been among those most changed. Since 1990, the number of foreign-born residents ...