Ayelet Gilat, a California native, is a leader for immigrants from other countries

Op-Ed: What Asian immigrants, seeking the American dream, found in Southern California suburbs like Alhambra

As the U. S. economy grows, thousands of people of Asian descent are looking outside the country for opportunities.

They’re seeking work, starting a business and finding meaning in life in California’s suburbs – and the city of Alhambra, just across the bridge from San Diego and bordering San Francisco.

Over the past year, this group has begun to take their lead from immigrants coming to the U.S. from other parts of the world.

“If you come to this neighborhood, you could actually find a career path here,” says Ayelet Gilat, an Alhambra native who has a master’s degree in social work from California State University San Marcos.

She moved here from Israel with her family in 1996. Her mother was born in Israel, but her father, who was born in Jordan, was sent to the U.S. as a child and grew up here.

“He always said, ‘I can not get a job here. In Israel, they won’t even give you a passport or permission to work legally,” says Gilat, now 33, who is married with a 3-year-old son.

“My father always told me, ‘I want to go to America to be with you.’ It’s different for someone like him who grew up in the U.S. and who wants to have the American dream.”

Since moving here, Gilat has become an advocate for immigrants from other countries at a time when the political climate is hostile to people from other nations.

She has hosted several group immigration workshops at the West Valley Leadership Academy, an after-school program in the suburb of Alhambra where she also works.

In July, she hosted a three-hour presentation of her work at Valley Life Church in Alhambra, where she was introduced to a local resident and church member who was born in Kenya.

“What he said was very encouraging to me,” says Gilat. “He said many parents dream of their children leaving the U.S. for a better life.

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