My Syrian Driver

By Noah Graff

Last weekend I took a Uber downtown.

After a few minutes of chit chat, my driver told me he was an immigrant from Syria who came to the U.S. five years ago.

I asked him how he felt about our incoming President, expecting to get a strongly negative earful, but I was surprised by his response. First, he said he agreed with Donald Trump that our borders need to be more secure. As an immigrant who came to the United States through a legal process it makes sense that he would prefer that others do so as well. He said he wasn’t that afraid of Trump because he believed the United States’ system of government was designed to prevent a President from overstepping his bounds. He has an interesting perspective as someone who lived under the despotic Assad Regime.

Richard told me that the process to emigrate to the U.S. started 12 years ago. He and his family, a wife and two daughters, were sponsored by his brother who had emigrated in 1985. It took seven years of vetting for his family to finally be allowed to enter.

Inside Uber Ride

When I meet someone like Richard the first thing that comes into my mind is that he must feel so thankful to be living in a safe, free, prosperous country like the United States. I think Richard does appreciate the safety of the United States while his home country withers in turmoil, but he definitely did not sound content in his current situation. In Syria Richard was an engineer and owned a company with 12 contractors working under him. Before he left Syria the government seized all of his assets, including his land and the money in his bank account. He said he arrived in the United States with $30,000.

Richard’s two daughters are 19 and 21. One daughter is in college and the other has graduated from Northeastern Illinois University, a decent public school in Chicago. He bragged about their 3.9 GPAs which they achieved while also working to earn enough money to pay for their educations. He complained that he has no time to spend with his family because he is constantly having to work. He complained about paying for Obamacare, which he considered a poor value for the cost. He complained that his kids are saddled with huge debt from college loans and that he can’t work as an engineer in the U.S. because his degree is not accepted here. He said it costs $60,000 to earn an Engineering Masters Degree, which he cannot afford. He told me he finds it crazy that in the country with the richest economy, healthcare and education are unaffordable while in most developed countries, including his native Syria, those services are provided free by the government.

I have sympathy for Richard. He seemed so tired and felt trapped in his situation. As someone who came from a position of stature and wealth driving a taxi for 12 hours a day torments him.

Despite being such a downer, I found Richard strangely endearing. I admired his tenacity and the sacrifice he has made for his family. As I reached my destination I remained in the car for several minutes to listen to an articulate, candid opinion of an Arab immigrant living in the country I grew up in. It was fascinating. It was healthy.

He sounded like so many other Americans who say they feel hindered from succeeding.

Question: Do you feel hindered from succeeding in the United States?

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11 thoughts on “My Syrian Driver

  1. Keith

    My wife and I own a medium sized machine shop, 22 employees. We are in the People’s Republik of Kalifornia, and probably break 100s of laws and regulations each day. And taxes! No one in government tells the truth about taxes; taxes are a business expense, and are always paid for by the company’s customers. I guess this is a rant, but we feel that much less help from the government would make it easier to be in business. Richard could probably get a job as an engineer in a machine shop, or small manufacturing company without a degree! Thanks for sharing his perspective.

    1. Robert

      I agree with the above. He should be able to get an engineering job in a small shop that would pay much better than Uber and have some kind of insurance benefits.

  2. Joe altstatt

    I also agree with the above . This guy could get a good job in Manufacturing . And, anytime some one says we are here from the government to help you. Don’t believe it . And , with our seventeen employees we more then likely violate a few “laws” everyday. You have to – to survive.

  3. Art Santana

    I manage a machine shop with 50 plus employees and 23 machining centers; I have 6 grown children who all have earned degrees from prestigious universities (BYU to Utah State to Penn); They all make better wages than I; we all own our own homes, student debt is non existent and have never asked the government for any kind of assistance. I strongly believe that you get what you put into it and the opportunities are aplenty
    Hindered from succeeding in America? A guy with jr high education that one day decided to come to the promised land has plenty of stories to tell you why that is not true.

  4. Doug S

    Health care and education… two things that the government has seized control of in the last eight years, now they are a mess. What does that tell you?

    1. rick

      Should I speak of the outgoing administration???

      Just a thought:
      10 Planks of The Communist Manifesto written by Karl Marx in 1848

      1. Abolition of private property and the application of all rents of land to public purposes.
      Americans do these with actions such as the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (1868), and various zoning, school & property taxes. Also the Bureau of Land Management (Zoning laws are the first step to government property ownership)
      Can you say ABSURD PROPERTY TAXES???

      2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
      Americans know this as misapplication of the 16th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, 1913, The Social Security Act of 1936.; Joint House Resolution 192 of 1933; and various State “income” taxes. They call it “paying your fair share”.
      Can you say TAX “CODE”???

      3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
      Americans call it Federal & State estate Tax (1916); or reformed Probate Laws, and limited inheritance via arbitrary inheritance tax statutes.
      Can you say CONFISCATORY TAXES???

      4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
      Americans call it government seizures, tax liens, Public “law” 99-570 (1986); Executive order 11490, sections 1205, 2002 which gives private land to the Department of Urban Development; the imprisonment of “terrorists” and those who speak out or write against the “government” (1997 Crime/Terrorist Bill); or the IRS confiscation of property without due process. Asset forfeiture laws are used by DEA, IRS, ATF etc…).
      Can you say FORFEITURE???

      5. Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
      Americans call it the Federal Reserve which is a privately-owned credit/debt system allowed by the Federal Reserve act of 1913. All local banks are members of the Fed system, and are regulated by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) another privately-owned corporation. The Federal Reserve Banks issue Fiat Paper Money and practice economically destructive fractional reserve banking.
      Can you say THE FED???

      6. Centralization of the means of communications and transportation in the hands of the State.
      Americans call it the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Department of Transportation (DOT) mandated through the ICC act of 1887, the Commissions Act of 1934, The Interstate Commerce Commission established in 1938, The Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Executive orders 11490, 10999, as well as State mandated driver’s licenses and Department of Transportation regulations.
      Can you say INTERNET CONTROL and MORE???

      7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state, the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
      Americans call it corporate capacity, The Desert Entry Act and The Department of Agriculture… Thus read “controlled or subsidized” rather than “owned”… This is easily seen in these as well as the Department of Commerce and Labor, Department of Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Mines, National Park Service, and the IRS control of business through corporate regulations.
      Can you say GM TAKEOVERS & OBAMACARE???

      8. Equal liability of all to labor. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
      Americans call it Minimum Wage and slave labor like dealing with our Most Favored Nation trade partner; i.e. Communist China. We see it in practice via the Social Security Administration and The Department of Labor. The National debt and inflation caused by the communal bank has caused the need for a two “income” family. Woman in the workplace since the 1920’s, the 19th amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, assorted Socialist Unions, affirmative action, the Federal Public Works Program and of course Executive order 11000.
      Can you say FEDERAL UNIONS & $15 MINIMUM WAGES???

      9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries, gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equitable distribution of population over the country.
      Americans call it the Planning Reorganization act of 1949 , zoning (Title 17 1910-1990) and Super Corporate Farms, as well as Executive orders 11647, 11731 (ten regions) and Public “law” 89-136. These provide for forced relocations and forced sterilization programs, like in China.
      Margaret Higgins Sanger wanted the BLACK community KILLED via STERILIZATION!
      58,586,256 Abortions in America Since Roe v. Wade in 1973
      Are YU58,586,256 Abortions in America Since Roe v. Wade in 1973OY 58,586,256 Abortions in America Since Roe v. Wade in 1973
      ARE YOU PROUD???

      10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production.
      Americans are being taxed to support what we call ‘public’ schools, but are actually “government force-tax-funded schools ” Even private schools are government regulated. The purpose is to train the young to work for the communal debt system. We also call it the Department of Education, the NEA and Outcome Based “Education” . These are used so that all children can be indoctrinated and inculcated with the government propaganda, like “majority rules”, and “pay your fair share”. WHERE are the words “fair share” in the Constitution, Bill of Rights or the Internal Revenue Code (Title 26)?? NO WHERE is “fair share” even suggested !! The philosophical concept of “fair share” comes from the Communist maxim, “From each according to their ability, to each according to their need! This concept is pure socialism. … America was made the greatest society by its private initiative WORK ETHIC … Teaching ourselves and others how to “fish” to be self sufficient and produce plenty of EXTRA commodities to if so desired could be shared with others who might be “needy”… Americans have always voluntarily been the MOST generous and charitable society on the planet.
      Can you say COMMON CORE & TEACHERS UNION???


      1. Kevin

        I think you are constant complainer and everybody is out to get you. Number one you should go to Russia and live if you think you can get a better deal from you Government. Our Government isn’t perfect but is still the best in the world to live under. Grow up!

  5. Peter

    Sounds like a guy who came from the privileged class and is not in it now so is bitter. You don’t need a degree to get an engineering job in the US unless you need to put a PE stamp on something.

    1. rick

      agreed, however our current government and society is moving towards the European class warfare system, where you must have a degree from a prestigious & famous establishment of higher learning filled with experts who NEVER DID ANYTHING other that read and get degrees. And then there are those who require require certifications from some greater body of competent jurisdiction providing the empowering them to do their work.

      remember Bill Gates was a dropout and never obtained his degree AND Noah’s Ark was built by armatures…

  6. Paul Huber

    Anyone with a skill or any education in-demand can succeed.
    One needs to learn English in a hurry and take courses to match or exceed the level of the job on hand.
    Been there, done that!
    Green card holders, including myself, expect nothing less then every would be immigrant to go thru the same long, drawn out process and expenses we all worked our way thru.
    There are millions of legal immigrants in this country who spend billions of dollars to acquire their green card.
    Please note: The millions of jobs promised by our President-elect will never materialize if we do not create a skilled workforce in tune with current and future skills demand. This skills can be obtained via an apprenticeship, Vo-tech school, internship and , if needed, college.
    Government and Industry must jointly create and maintain our skilled workforce to meet our Nations demand. State and federal labor and education departments are not fully aware what their role is in this endeavor!
    Life time learning is unfortunately not part of the vocabulary of most job seekers of any age.


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