Things We Wish We Could Say Out Loud – Immigration, Refugees and Culture

Sep 09

Things We Wish We Could Say Out Loud – Immigration, Refugees and Culture

It is September 2017. Over the last few months in Canada, we have seen protests against illegal immigration where people are choosing to walk across the border from the US. Many people can understand the motivation. Non-citizens in the US are worried that the change in politics signaled by the election of Donald Trump is an indicator that they will be deported back to their home countries, primarily in Haiti and in South America. Many of these people are in the US under temporary refuge after environmental or political catastrophes. Whether this fear is valid or not (I think it is) and the perception that Canada is an easier place to earn residency, walking across the border is a logical action.

Most people understand this. Canada is an exceptional country, rich and stable. Politically, it is what most people want. Even at the most extreme, Canadian governments govern in a centrist manner, working to benefits its citizens. Canada is not perfect but it is one of the best places to live on the planet and is recognized as such. Living in Canada is like winning a global jackpot. Canadian citizenship is winning the global lottery. Being in Canada is a high-value prize.

There are Canadians who are becoming increasingly upset about the stream of illegals entering Canada, some claiming asylum, some claiming refugee status. In Quebec, some 3000 people walked across the border to Canada in July. In August, the number is estimated to have doubled. While the federal government claims the situation is well managed, they try to avoid reminding people that once someone is in Canada, they have access to a processing and appeals system that can sometimes take years to complete.

Montreal’s Olympic Stadium used to house surge in asylum seekers crossing from U.S. (CBC)

Canada sees ‘unsustainable’ spike in asylum seekers at U.S. border (Reuters)

There have been protests in different parts of Canada about this situation. The protests focus on illegals coming to Canada, utilizing resources, accessing programs and moving ahead of those people from around the world who have followed the immigration or refugee or asylum processes. Canada, the protestor state, is an increasingly soft touch and its Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is doing nothing to address the matter.

Interestingly, the protestors find themselves being labelled as right-wing, racist, facist, Nazi, Islamophobic, homophobic and an assortment of additional sobriquets. And let’s not kid ourselves. Inside any group one will always find people whose beliefs are anathema to our own. Protests are being shouted down by others who, in their secure sense that anyone against illegal immigration is racist, feel that such ideas have no place in civil society. In the knee-jerk world of social media, even the concept of discussing the topic immediately devolves into a shouting match, “leftists” accusing anyone in disagreement with their common wisdom of fascism, Nazism and genocide. It does not make for a safe place :).

Quebec City Protesters Clash With Police Outside Far-Right Event (Huffington Post)

I thought this might be a good place to pose some of the ideas that cannot be discussed at a reasonable volume. I think you will find, like in most things in life, you may agree with some and disagree with others.

  1. Canada is underpopulated and its social programs are in danger due to a small birthrate. We need more people in Canada and some of these “illegals” would be of great benefit.
  2. Canada is among the best places to live on Earth. Its culture is objectively better than that of most of the places from which refugees and asylum seekers originate.
  3. Canada has an interest in allowing the best people available to come to Canada. Its immigration system reflects this concept, rewarding what we see as merit.
  4. Canada, a vast land with immense resources, has a moral obligation to provide a place of safety to those in crisis, whose lives are at risk.
  5. Canada, a vast land with immense resources, does not have a moral obligation to provide a place of safety to those lives are not at risk, such as those seeking a better economic situation.
  6. The United States, even while it suffers President Trump, is a free, democratic and law-abiding country. A refugee in the US is not at risk, even if they are frightened.
  7. Canada, in accepting refugees or asylum seekers, is under no moral obligation to grant them citizenship. They are under a moral obligation to offer them a safe place and to assist them in integrating sufficiently to support themselves while under refuge.
  8. It is wrong for a country to prevent qualified refugees and asylum seekers from seeking citizenship. We want the qualified ones.
  9. Canada is under no obligation to respect or protect the cultural or religious beliefs of newcomers.
  10. Most of the cultural or religious beliefs of newcomers are harmless. There is no reason to prevent them from being celebrated in the home or the community.
  11. The culture of Canada, built over several hundred years of trial and error is better than the cultures of those seeking refuge and asylum. It is better for the newcomer to do as much as they possibly can to learn this culture and integrate as best they can.
  12. Historically, the time it takes for a newcomer to integrate is generational. It is often not until the third generation that the newcomers’ families fully integrate to their new homes.
  13. Their are certain elements of Canadian culture that are in direct opposition to that of some newcomers.
    1. For example, head covering is not but face covering is.
  14. Historically, the first generation of any wave of immigration or refugees leads to crime in those communities. Most often, such criminals prey on their own communities though now crimes have expanded to cheat such government programs as they can. This is nothing new and is a cost of doing business.
  15. It takes time to accept anyone or anything new. Change is hard. Tolerance of newcomers is acceptable while they integrate to Canada.
    1. Not long ago, Italians, Jews and others were considered “the other” and we actively discriminated against. More recently, Sikhs were the subject of discrimination. Over time, such discrimination fades. Not long ago, a turbaned, bearded Sikh would not be considered much of a candidate for politics. Now, they are courted and one is a real contender for the leadership of a national political party, not to mentioned being lauded as a style icon.
  16.   People who disagree with one’s beliefs are not necessarily Nazis, Communists, self-loathing, racist or any other thing one believes is evil. A rule of thumb is that most of the ideas of any political extreme will turn out to be dangerous.
  17. It is almost axiomatic that those who shout and threaten violence and retribution anonymously, with covered faces, are less honourable and more dangerous than those who do the same. And yes, we should also consider law enforcement to fall under this rule.
  18. It is not unreasonable for Canadians to expect gratitude from refugees and asylum seekers. In truth, most heartily express their thanks for a place of safety for themselves and their loved ones. Most work as hard as possible to do well, which is a benefit to Canada.
  19. It is not unreasonable for Canadians to respond badly to those who state, because all is not perfect in Canada, that Canadians are racists, fascists, etc.
    1. It is like helping someone out of a fire and being insulted for not also rescuing their cat.

There are more thoughts that come to mind on a regular basis. I know their are more and you are welcome to leave them in the comments. Please note that extreme idiocy from any point in the political spectrum will likely be removed.

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One comment

  1. Soufi’s — a Syrian run restaurant — received national and international media coverage when they were forced to close after receiving numerous death threats. The increased media coverage resulted in support from many quarters and they are now open again. The family was targeted by an organized right wing internet campaign after their son Alaa Soufi was part of a protest against People’s Party of Canada’s Leader Maxime Bernier.

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