Moroccans and the Elusive Green Card Dream

Tuesday 1 June 202109:28 am
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"لن أخسر شيئاً، وقد أفوز بكلّ شيء"... شباب يسكنهم حلم "القُرعة" الأمريكية

“‘...you have not been selected’. This sentence rocks and shatters my dreams every year. It is the phrase that has prevented me from embracing the great American dream for ten years now. But I am still determined, and I will apply again next year, and in every year that follows until my name is chosen…” With these words, Mohammad continues to hold on to hope, as he rolls the dice once more on top of the board of the American dream, not worrying about losses.

The Moroccan young man, whose application was rejected with this ominous sentence two weeks ago, states that the desire to immigrate to the country of “Uncle Sam” has been on his mind for a long time now. He adds that he finds that the annual “lottery” — the Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) program — is an “easy” way that may enable him to reach his goal. Speaking to Raseef22, he says, “I know very well that this method is very random and arbitrary, and my chances are very low in a pool of more than a hundred thousand other candidates, but I always have the hope that I will be among the lucky few and receive the opportunity of a lifetime: an immigration visa to America.”

Mohammad’s 30th birthday is only a few weeks away. He has spent the last eight years working in the commercial contracting industry in the Moroccan port city of Casablanca. However, this professional stability, and his living situation — which is better than thousands of the young people of his generation — remains ‘the tree that hides the forest’.

In his account to Raseef22, Mohammad says, “My financial situation is fluctuating, and I am in a constant state of anxiety and unease regarding my future. That is why I am searching for stability and a new experience to live through. I see that the opportunity to immigrate to America is one that is too good to pass up. Despite me being aware that the experience will not be littered with roses at first, it is however still tempting to go through with it, that is, if one day luck smiles down on me.”

As for the reasons for his insistence on going to the United States in particular, he explains that he considers America “a country of promising opportunities, and immigration to the US will open up new opportunities for me through which my material and living conditions will improve. I come across, from time to time, job opportunities in Europe, but I am not that enthusiastic about them.”

Osama, a young Rabat resident with a degree in physics has been applying to the lottery for the past five years, but luck has not been his ally. He says: I am waiting for next year’s lottery in order to apply once again

For his part, Osama, a young Rabat resident who holds a degree in physics, reveals that he has been applying to the lottery for the past five consecutive years, but luck has not been his ally. He states, “I am waiting for next year’s lottery in order to apply once again. I don’t lose anything from applying. The process is free, and the application form takes only about 20 minutes to fill out, but the gains are huge in return.”

Osama adds that for him, immigration “will always remain an attractive opportunity that I believe will open up wider horizons for me to be able to develop myself, to engage in new experiences, in addition to living in a different culture. That is why I have always held on to the dream of emigrating to Europe or America, to improve my living conditions, my income, and my life in general. The lottery continues to be one of the ways in which I am trying to leave, in addition to searching for job opportunities or scholarship grants to complete my studies abroad.” He stresses that the lottery “remains the easiest option, despite it being not guaranteed and completely random, even though I know a number of people who have succeeded in getting to America, and they tell me about their positive experiences there.”

Thousands Gambling for the Chance of a Lifetime

The case of Mohammad and Osama — just like over a hundred thousand Moroccans (according to numbers by the American Consulate in Morocco) of different age and class groups — gamble every year with Sisyphean insistence on the lottery conducted by the US State Department in a number of countries around the world, Morocco included, to get their hands on a permanent resident visa. During the past two weeks, Moroccan pages on social media networks were filled with posts talking about a number of these applicants, as they shared their news and their feelings of disappointment, in addition to jokes and sarcastic memes on those whose dreams of leaving have been postponed once again. The pages also celebrated and congratulated the few lucky winners of the American “lottery” (between 800 and 1,000 people are chosen annually).

Sammy is one person from the “surviving group”. A stroke of luck took him from the Moroccan city of Salé all the way to Orlando in the US state of Florida, after being chosen through random chance during his fourth participation in the lottery. The Moroccan young man states, “I participated in the lottery four times, and was successful on the fourth time, last year. I arrived in America last March, after the necessary procedures were delayed due to the fallout from the pandemic.”

Sammy, who is 25 years old, added that the motive for his attempts to emigrate from his country is “being open to new experiences”. He went on to say, “I wanted to emigrate, and I always thought about it. After I was selected, I found that it is the opportunity of a lifetime. Today, I am happy here. Although I am still facing difficulties in beginnings and starting over, the initial signs are encouraging.”

A year ago, Sammy saw that his chances of success were low, and that he was participating in the lottery without any expectations of success, and “When I received the letter that I had won, I did not believe it at all. I read the letter several times over and sent it to a friend who spoke better English than I did to make sure that I really had won. I was experiencing mixed feelings of joy and fear, and even experienced difficult moments while saying goodbye to my family and friends. But following my arrival I felt that I had been reborn into a new life.”

“The Allure of the American Model”

Mohammad Haitoumi, a university professor specializing in the immigration, says the United States of America “remains the most powerful country in the world, whether through the strength of its economy or through its documentation and credentials. In addition, the model of life presented by American society is strongly attractive and prevalent thanks to the evolution of social media, with this Western model remaining dominant when it comes to the context of globalization.”

Other factors influencing the turnout — in addition to the great desire to immigrate to America — are represented, according to Haitoumi, in the “power of documentation” (after obtaining the citizenship), which allows the American citizen a set of rights and also grants him/her symbolic power. Additionally, the American model of living is characterized as “pioneering, continuous, and open to pluralism culture in its most liberal form.” All this comes in addition to other economic factors, as American society remains “an open market that provides important opportunities, where a person can be exposed to occupational risks and can quickly leave and acquire a new job opportunity.”

“I am still determined, and I will do it again next year, and in every year that follows until my name is chosen in the immigration lottery.” Mohammad is intent on the dream of immigrating to America

In a statement to Raseef22, Haitoumi explained that “the desire to emigrate is a culture that has been entrenched among Moroccans, "in the face of the lack of prospects when it comes to responding to most people’s aspirations. In addition, immigration offers important opportunities for development at the level of social, political, cultural and economic life, more than staying in the country,” where issues related to freedoms, rights, democracy, the rule of law, and the dynamism of the labor market remain essential motivators for those involved in the migration program, including candidates for the lottery project, most of whom suffer from poor resources that prevent them from migrating in any other way.”

Speaking on the appeal of the “green card” for Moroccan workers and employees as well, the expert in the field of immigration reported that these groups, in turn, are reassured by the Western American model, and seek citizenship in order to fully integrate into the American society with its various privileges.

The speaker noted that the United States adopts a selective model when it comes to admitting immigrants in, but — unlike the European model, which remains volatile — it is a continuous one. “It is also based on expediency to fill in any shortages in labor. Their choice to admit immigrants are studied and well-measured —not senseless — in something like a symbolic bargain, or a win-win situation.” Thus, every May, many find their eyes glued to their computer screens, hoping to board the first plane to a country that they see a paradise in, but for some of them, it may very well be “hell” instead.

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