An impassioned defense of immigration and the strength of the American dream.
As he describes in this highly personal account of immigration to America, Hsu arrived in America from Taiwan with $500 in his pocket. He’s now the very successful founder of an environmental engineering and renewable energy company. The story sounds a bit simplistic at first, and indeed in this debut work, Hsu doesn’t shy away from his beliefs that the American dream is alive and well and that he is proof of this theory. He opens the book bemoaning the fact that Americans feel so negative and cynical about their country, though he spends little time actually trying to understand why that might be. Instead, his mission is a more positive one—and not wholly ineffective. According to Hsu, one in 30 people around the globe wants to permanently leave his or her country and move to the United States. Rather than focusing on the pessimism he cites early on, he reminds readers that, for nonnatives, the country often holds nothing but promise. “In spite of all the controversy surrounding immigration policies,” he writes, “America remains the most welcoming place for immigrants.” Further, Hsu is also quite convincing when talking about the positive effects of immigration on the American economy, as when he reminds readers that immigrants are 30 percent more likely to start a business in the United States than nonimmigrants. Hsu effectively relates his own story and those of other successful immigrants, but on the downside, his argument would be stronger if he made more effort to understand why certain populations, native and nonnative, might not feel that “making it” in America is merely a matter of perseverance and hard work. Some of the statements—“Here, it’s not about who your parents are or where your family is from. It’s about your ability to dream big and the determination to get there”—may seem shortsighted and narrow-minded, particularly to someone who grew up impoverished and with few educational opportunities. The book would have been strengthened by an acknowledgment of such and by including a broader discussion of how to open opportunities for everyone.
A convincing treatise on the value of immigration, though not necessarily on the virtuousness of the American dream.