July 29th, 2010

From David Cameron, Nova Scotia

Big illegal immigration problem in Canada? Not really, since relatively few Americans want to pick our broccoli badly enough to sneak in! We do get the odd ship-jumping in Halifax & Vancouver has some Asian people-smuggling going on-but those folks all end up living/working in the Asian community so there is little mainstream backlash about it. Canada is probably a little easier to immigrate into legally than the US. Our farmers are able to legally hire Mexican and Caribbean workers for harvest, even here in Nova Scotia-which has led to some really interesting strong ties & stories of mutual respect and love & support.

Our politicians aren’t saints, but wouldn’t be caught dead hiring an illegal alien as maid, child-care person, etc., they would be so dead in the water politically, along with their whole party.

We do have a minor traffic in English-speaking “floaters” who come as tourists & like it too much & over-stay their visa’s & get work under the table. Eventually they go back and either organize themselves to immigrate legally, marry a Canadian or give it up. Unfortunately our laws and their execution aren’t always as smart or compassionate as they could be. We, like the US, have political biases that profoundly affect who can get in with relative ease and who isn’t welcome at all. Dark, Muslim, Mid-Eastern people are now having a harder time of it, getting in. Also the way we don’t support immigrants adequately is a problem-leaving fine people with degrees in medicine, engineering, etc., driving cabs because our associations, guilds and societies refuse to acknowledge their credentials, kind of a professional private enterprise vs. political bigotry, but the politicos obligingly ignore this and don’t legislate solutions.

I see in today’s paper a federal judge is holding up Arizona’s tough-on-immigrants law. And for good reason, as far as I can see. Most US anti-alien sentiment doesn’t distinguish very well between those there legally and the illegal variety, hence the laws drafted tend to have horribly humiliating/alienating impacts on the legal immigrants. Also tend to leave out reasonable humanitarian considerations that would recognize that familial bonds tend to be stronger in Mexico and many other cultures than in middle class America, and need to be taken into account, i.e., if you let me in, in my mind, you have really allowed in my whole extended family. Here in Canada where multi-culturalism prevails, this principal is understood and again, some accommodation made in that regard. Not to say therte isn’t strong general anti-immigration sentiment here-especially among industrial workers-doubly ironic in that almost 100% of them or their families started life in Canada as immigrants and there is very little industry left in Canada anyway since it has all moved off-shore to the places immigrants traditionally come from, where people work for less.

Another irony I see in US anti-immigrant attitudes is that it is precisely the intentional cultural export of the vaunted “American Dream” that has so fueled a desire in the less developed countries to emulate the US, to have what Americans seem to have, even if it means having to sneak into the US to get a higher paid job.

Another irony is that while some illegals are just the most desperate, many are often the smartest, bravest, most resourceful, hard-working and tenacious of the poor people of their country and generation.

So it would be good to take a hard look at one’s immigrants, legal & otherwise. America, like Canada is a nation of immigrants and today’s immigrants may be bringing to our shores exactly what we need, as they always have.

David Cameron


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