It is believed that for every Brazilian who makes it big in the
United States, 400 others live from day to day just getting enough to survive and maybe
save a little at the end of the month.
By Émerson Luís
While the majority of Brazilian newcomers to the US are still illegal immigrants who
overstay their visa or enter the country through the Mexican border, a new breed of
incomersmuch better prepared and more affluentis being noticed. Data from the
INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) show that 70 percent of Brazilians obtaining
their green cards nowadays are getting it for professional reasons.
A new study conducted by the New York City administration also shows this same trend.
According to the report, 2,761 Brazilians obtained a green card in New York between 1995
and 1996. From these, 27 percent, the biggest concentration, were living in the Upper East
Side, a upper scale area of Manhattan where monthly rentals for housing average $5,000.
The number of Brazilians getting the right to live permanently and work in the States
is still very small, since according to the Brazilian Consulate in New York estimates,
there are 300,000 people from Brazil living in the states of New York, New Jersey,
Connecticut, Delaware and Pennsylvania, the areas covered by that department. Others
estimate that for every Brazilian who makes it big on Yankee shores, 400 others live from
day to day just getting enough to survive and maybe save a little at the end of the month.
According to a recent article in Veja (Brazil’s main weekly news magazine),
Brazilians in New York are losing to the competition even in areas they were prevalent
until recently, like shoe shining in which they have a small monopoly. One case cited is
that of Serbs and Croats, war refugees, who arrive eager to work and to learn English and
who are taking Brazilian jobs as waiters. Russians are taking over construction jobs, and
Filipino and Russian women are entering the baby-sitting feuds with a vengeance.
As an example of the new upscale Brazilians arriving in town, Veja cites
composer and pianist Marcelo Zarvos, 30, who came to New York five years ago and keeps
busy composing for the movies and appearing in concerts. "What unites the cultural
cauldron of the city is the language," Zarvos says. "He who arrives here without
speaking English will be condemned to live in a Brazilian ghetto. In this case, it’s
better to stay in Brazil."