How safe is life in the USA: the experience of immigrants
Officially, contrary to popular belief, the United States is not among the most peaceful and secure countries. For example, in early October, the Expert Commission Institute of Economics and Peace presented an updated version of the Global Peace Index 2021, which ranks 163 countries from the highest level of safety of residence to critically low. Experts analyzed the number of military conflicts in which the country is involved, the percentage of refugees in the total population, the observance of human rights, the number of serious crimes and prisoners in prisons, the availability of firearms, and so on.
USA occupied in this rating only 122nd place, being between Azerbaijan and South Africa. Formally, the country belongs to the "medium" level of security, but it is practically on the border with the states classified by the compilers as the "low" level. Some associate such indicators with a record growth violent crimes in the U.S. for 2020 (up 30% from 2019), however numbers show that in 2018 the United States occupied in the "safety rating" approximately the same position - 121st place. At the same time, Iceland, New Zealand, Denmark, Austria, Czech Republic, Canada, etc. are traditionally considered the safest countries.
The "unenviable" rating of the United States is quite understandable: the country periodically participates in military conflicts (albeit outside its borders), firearms are still readily available to citizens, violent crimes are not declining, and in terms of the number of prisoners in absolute terms, the United States is confident lead - they account for a quarter of all prisoners on the planet. And yet, Russian-speaking immigrants assure: in the United States, most of them feel safer than in their historical homeland. We tried to collect the most frequently mentioned things that, according to our immigrants, help them feel more comfortable and safer in America than at home.
American friendliness and goodwill
Oddly enough, banal politeness, although not capable of truly making life safer, sharply increases the feeling of the benevolence of the world. The courtesy and attentiveness to the client, found everywhere in the US in the service sector, according to psychologists, increases the illusion of basic security - the unconscious feeling, derived from childhood, that we are surrounded by a stable and safe universe.
Of course, the world is actually not at all as friendly as it might seem, however, as experts note, the constant memory of possible cataclysms and blows of fate does not help to build a happy life. Conversely, the illusion of a safe world allows us to move forward more confidently and achieve our goals. But the traditional rudeness, to which we are so accustomed at home, on the contrary, imperceptibly undermines the feeling of security in the world, implicitly demonstrating that we should expect hostility even from strangers. Such an atmosphere contributes to the growth of not only irritability, but also unexplained anxiety.
Some immigrants also include the famous American political correctness here, or rather, the very feeling that no one here will scoff at your origin or accent.
“For me, this is an expression of accumulated wisdom, understanding that the observance of human rights and respect for a person is more important than one's own wit and rudeness, which I so want to demonstrate to some merry fellows, alas, from our diaspora, too, very often. America is tolerant to everyone: to people from different countries, to people of different ages, different religions, different races and nationalities, ”notes Elena Bilak from San Francisco.
However, some immigrants criticize excessive political correctness precisely for creating a feeling of discomfort when it is difficult for newcomers to guess which words of theirs may be regarded as offensive here.
Belief in the law and the law enforcement system
The confidence that you will not face arbitrariness and will be able to defend your rights in case of something is also one of the cornerstones of a sense of security. True, both immigrants and Native Americans note that in order for such protection to be effective, a good and expensive lawyer is often needed. But, nevertheless, the majority of US residents do not expect from the police torture, extortion of bribes or attempts to "hang" on the victims all the unsolved cases over the past six months. Most of all, the police and the law enforcement system in general are not trusted by African Americans and illegal immigrants, who have repeatedly faced the brutality of law enforcement officers in practice. But even today, the level of public confidence in the police in the United States is much higher than in the post-Soviet space.
On the other hand, some immigrants are annoyed by the "insidiousness" of American law enforcement officers and their attempts to confuse gullible foreigners.
You may be interested in: top New York news, stories of our immigrants and helpful tips about life in the Big Apple - read it all on ForumDaily New York.
“In America, you really need to watch your every word, especially when it comes to immigration issues. You can, by the breadth of your heart, share some personal details with a stranger, and he will pretend that he agrees with you, and will immediately report you, deciding that you have deceived the migration service or withheld important information from it. It is very difficult to get used to the fact that you cannot relax and trust people - everything can be used against you, ”complains Vyacheslav from new york
Mikhail Nikitinwho passed the immigration jail also notesthat immigration officers sometimes deliberately try to distort facts or persuade an immigrant to give false information in order to then accuse him of "inconsistencies and deception." Some immigrants point out that "sneakiness" can be expected not only from law enforcement officers, but also from ordinary acquaintances and colleagues: the overall high level of competition in the United States and sometimes shortsighted pragmatism, when momentary profit is put above relations with a person, is reflected.
However, those who have lived in the United States for a long time assure us that you can get used to the peculiarities of American business culture over time. learn do not fall into traps. Nevertheless, the expectation of a catch and the inability to understand how sincere your interlocutor is, for many Russian-speaking immigrants is a serious stressful factor.
The ability to criticize the government
In the last year, Russian-speaking immigrants have become complain more oftenthat the "new ethic" reduces the ability to say whatever you think - a freedom that has always been particularly prized in the United States. And yet, despite the growth of restrictions dictated by society, in the United States you can still scold the government, publicly criticize the president and not be afraid of criminal liability for your words, as, for example, in Russia. Moreover, the notorious "new ethics" can also be criticized, which immigrants from the post-Soviet space are doing quite actively.
Social guarantees for the poor
“I love America because the poorest have insurance from the state, full-fledged medical care for the most expensive and complex operation, because students from poor families can study at the most prestigious universities in the country if they want to study and make efforts to this ... I love America for its touching attitude towards the elderly, especially the poor, who receive the same services in nursing homes as wealthy Americans; because they have a calm old age ", - lists Zinaida Markenzon from San Francisco.
However, many, on the contrary, criticize the United States for the inaccessibility of good education and quality medical care, especially for the "lower middle class" - people who cannot yet be called indigent, but whose standard of living has been steadily declining over the years. In addition, in the United States it is quite easy to lose a job, which entails a sharp change in the standard of living, in extreme cases - up to the loss of housing.
Summing up, however, we can say that America's shortcomings, like any other country, are a continuation of its merits. But in general, the majority of Russian-speaking immigrants note: in the United States they feel safer and more protected than at home, and, despite all the problems, they believe in the possibility of changing the situation for the better.
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