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Book Chapter

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Oxford University Press


The United States remains one of the most desirable nations for higher education , with 623,805 enrolled international students, which constitutes 3.5% of the total enrollment in the 2007 - 2008 academic year. Among them, some choose to stay after completing their education and become what Motomura (2006) describes as the "Americans in waiting:' 1bis refers to those who obtained legal Permanent Residency (PR) status as green card holders, but not U.S . citizenship. Having PR status is imperative before one becomes a naturalized citizen with all rights given to a U.S.-born citizen.

This group of intern ational students , myself included, starts the long and anxiety-ridden process of becoming a U.S. immigrant. In the duration, their legal identity might be more whimsical than structured. As their role in this nation changes based on labels attached to them, the ways these newcomers view themselves in U.S. society simultaneously readjusts. Maintaining and alternating one's leg al status sometimes is not in one's complete control. This essay describes how newcomers' identity is communicated within multiple bordered forces in the social, economic, and political realms. It further discusses the impact of various labels on their temporary legal status in the United States.

Chapter of

Our voices: Essays in culture, ethnicity, and communication


Alberto Gonzalez
Yea-Wen Chen


Also appears in 6th edition.

This material was originally published in Our voices: Essays in culture, ethnicity, and communication edited by Alberto Gonzalez and Yea-Wen Chen and has been reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press. For permission to reuse this material, please visit



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