Hey, That Filipino Stole My Job!

"Did you check out the new associate today? They're so perky, but cordial, as if holding something back. You've heard that they're packing some impressive credentials - degrees from NYU and Columbia, and experience at a big consulting firm; and they're good looking! They're how old!? Great, so I don't feel so bad, being this age and not having done as much. But oh, what's that? They're here on an H1-B Visa? What? You mean to tell me that this company literally bought this person and they can't work anywhere else? Ha! What a messed up situation. Oh well, I gotta get back to my desk and send out some more resumes. This company certainly doesn't own me."

In your lifetime, you may never be a witness to such a thing as anti-Americanism. You are more likely to have been a witness to the explosion of immigrants permanently staying near where you live and work. But what you still may not have realized is that the things that Americans take for granted are craved most by the rest of the world: an American education, easy transition between school and work, easy access to housing, credit, and material possessions are but dreams to anyone not American. While the only thing you had to do to have access to these things was be born in the country, for millions of people from all parts of the world, achieving these things is a rigorous, nightmare process that could take months, years, or even a lifetime.

At a recent lecture hosted by CORE, a non-profit dedicated to empowering Filipino-Americans at the Philippine Consulate in NY, panelists described how they had overcome insurmountable obstacles just to do the work they love here in the U.S. An editor for PC Magazine, a Judge, and a tech entrepreneur where the panelists and their stories are common across the entire spectrum of minorities: advanced degrees from their countries not always recognized in the U.S., a class or dependency-mentality that fears rocking the boat and falling out of line, no role models to guide them through the process of acculturation, no easy access with foreign names, faces, and public misconceptions, and absolutely no free rides.

The PC Mag editor didn't know anything about tech when she accepted the job. She had spent years editing for a Filipino magazine on the west coast out of necessity, but later, enjoyment and was fortunate to find a great husband and a company willing to give her a chance. A federal Judge, he started as a lawyer, but although he was born here and had bi-cultural parents, the dearth of diversity in the judiciary made his own ethnicity that much more acute as he ascended to the bench. Starting as a cold-caller, the tech entrepreneur often used fake names and accents just to get mid-westerns to accept his calls without derogatory comments. He eventually partnered with other tech executives that broke his firm out from under the radar.

You may think that these are the sort of things that everyone has to do just to get ahead. But the point isn't how much work has to get done; it's that the majority of Americans don't do it. American workers tend to define and limit themselves by their job descriptions. When that changes detrimentally to that status quo, they impulsively protest without realizing it's probably for the best.

Immigrants not only change, they accept work that Americans feel is beneath them. When the job changes, like the chameleon, they adapt, upwards and onwards, leaving their American counterparts in the dust who are still complaining because now, there are too many foreigners "stealing their jobs", as if the job were their's to be stolen, or even as if the job weren't already obsolete by the time an immigrant took it. The point is that employee entitlements under the auspices of the red, white, and blue aren't entitlements at all, but privileges in an economy that exercises the most flexibility anywhere and in any other time in how they utilize their workers. What the American worker is supposed to get is the opportunity to compete for the jobs they want, not the job. If they can't compete, either make yourself more competitive or move on to another part of the economy. Just don't blame the Filipinos.

Write to Al Berrios at


Related Sections

- Analysis of Organizational Reports


Disclaimer: The recommendations, commentary and opinions published herein are based on public information sometimes referenced via hyperlinks. Any similarities or likeness to any ideas or commentary from any other sources not referenced is purely coincidental. al berrios & co. cannot control any results occurring from advice obtained from this publication nor any opinion(s) conveyed by any reader of this publication.

(c) 2005. All Rights Reserved. al berrios & company, inc. Published by al berrios & co. This Report may not be reproduced or redistributed in any form without written permission from al berrios & co., subject to penalty.