Come From Away

Nfld Wash Day Two - AMc

Newfoundland Wash Day

When 911 happened, 38 airplanes were diverted to Gander Airport in Newfoundland.   The island of Newfoundland is the most easterly province in Canada and generally the poorest, with high unemployment and a mostly rural lifestyle, but Newfoundlanders are also known for their friendliness and down home hospitality and the small community of Gander took in 6500 stranded passengers, supplying meals, beds and entertainment for five days and spawning lifelong friendships in some cases.  The musical “Come From Away”, which debuted on Broadway last year and is currently playing in Toronto, is based on this true event.   The phrase Come From Away, is east coast slang for the fact that you are from someplace else, somewhere other than here.   

       It is human nature to want to help those in need, especially true if those in distress have a face and a name, but what if they come in the tens of  thousands, and we had to help them indefinitely?   Would we be quite as accommodating?  Or what if they were a boat full of 500 Sri Lankan refugees, as happened on the west coast of British Columbia in 2010, people from a different country and language and background?   Ah, it’s getting complicated.     

A overloaded raft filled with refugees sinks and a dead toddler washes up on the beaches of the Mediterranean – tragic.   Angela Merkel expresses sympathy for the drowned victims.  Gangs of young men board trains in Germany and swarm European borders, not so tragic – maybe even scary, in the way that large unpredictable crowds can be.   Now, it’s even more complicated.   

They are all asylum-seekers, but are they “refugees” fleeing conflict and death in a war torn country, or “economic migrants” seeking a better, more prosperous life?   Should people who follow the rules, fill out the required paperwork and wait their turn, be treated differently from those who just show up?    

As a writer with an interest in history and genealogy I have been mulling over these questions lately, because immigration is a hot issue today.   There’s a lot of anger and resentment.   Many people are in search of a better life, whether it is planned immigration, like my Dutch grandparents (see Dutch Inheritance), or fleeing a crisis, like my Irish ancestors (see Irish Roots), during the potato famine when a third of Ireland’s population starved to death.   But it’s also a much more complicated issue. 

When my Irish and Dutch ancestors came here, the country welcomed immigrants – they were needed to settle the wide open spaces.  The immigrants weren’t dependent on the government to support them, because there was no support system, or very little – unless you count that one pound note they received from the government for water transport to their new home.   They lost three members of their party of twenty on the way over, and jumped ship while it was lined up waiting to dock at the quarantine station in the St. Lawrence River, thus arriving destitute but nevertheless alive, although they lost one fifteen year old son in the bush and never found him.   I’m not sure how they traveled from Quebec to Toronto, where they were issued the loan, but as Quebec was swamped with the Irish, as were major US cities like Boston and New York, perhaps there were charities to give them a meal and help them disperse.    Certainly they were penniless, as the record, for the three brothers and their families, referred to them as indigent emigrants – poor and needy.   To put this cost of Great Lakes water transport into perspective, the ship fare from Ireland was 3 pounds per person to Canada, and 5 pounds to the US.    In many cases the landlords paid for the passage, eviction being an established practice.  National Archive Record -

In 1846 much of Canada was forested, and it must have been a daunting task to clear the land of all those trees to be able to plant a small crop.  They arrived in late October and wouldn’t have survived the first winter if the Indians hadn’t helped them build some kind of hut to provide shelter from the snow. 

First Homestead - AMc - 2017

First Homestead 1846

 Their first years were so bad that they gladly would have returned to Ireland, but slowly they started to prosper.  I can follow their prosperity through the agricultural census reports, so many acres farmed, bushels of wheat, livestock etc.    

My mother’s Dutch parents planned their immigration in 1922.   By then, immigrants had to pass a pre-medical and be sponsored by a Canadian farmer for a year.  Harvesting sugar beets in the hot sun was hard work – which they continued to do even after the year was over, until my grandfather found carpentry work building houses, barely surviving during the lean years of the Depression.   Both groups eventually adjusted and assimilated into society and their descendants considered themselves Canadian first. 

Canada is a lucky country in that we tend to have a fair degree of cultural tolerance – yes people can retain their culture here, but they are also expected to become Canadian.   But we have our limits too.  Unfortunately, demands to accommodate customs and episodes of cultural extremism tend to breed intolerance and distrust of all immigrants.   There’s a reason why America was called a melting pot – if people don’t wish to adapt and aren’t willing to abide by the laws of their new society, then perhaps they would be better not to come.   Respect is a two way street – if a country is kind enough to welcome someone in, they should be respectful of that country’s customs too.      

Being from a rural area as white as Wonder bread, I was in university in Toronto in the late 70’s, before I met anyone of a different race or color.  Now I work with so many different nationalities I don’t even think about it, because they are all just Canadians.   A few years ago during a playoff game I saw a TV clip of a group of fans cheering their hometown team in a sports bar in downtown Toronto, truly a multi-cultural city now, and there wasn’t a white Caucasian face among them.   Mind you, they were most likely first generation descendants who grew up on hockey and baseball, but certainly the face of the nation is changing.  (If you come here, you must love hockey – it is the law!)    

A co-worker of mine went through two years of paperwork and red tape to immigrate from an eastern European country.   Neither she nor her husband could work here in their respected careers (engineering, translator), but they came anyway.   They wanted a better life for their children.   They started with modest jobs and a modest home, then got better jobs and a better home.  Another colleague of mine was visiting her sister after graduation and got stranded here when the Croatian war broke out and the borders were closed back home.   She taught herself English and obtained her Canadian license.   Planned, not planned – both of them became excellent Canadian citizens, hard working, educated, the kind of people any country would want. 

But are all educational degrees the same?  Skills, knowledge?  There are lots  of taxi drivers with degrees.  What about values, ethics?  It would be naive to think all refugees share our moral standards.   If a person comes from a country where violence, fraud and corruption is rampant, and sometimes the only way to get ahead, then they might think those practices are acceptable here?  They’re not.  There has been some talk of making an ethics test a requirement for immigration.  But just how do you go about that?  It’s about as impractical as a test for terrorists.   I’ve often wondered why we letting so many international grads into the country when our own Canadian grads can’t get jobs.  It seems unfair.   Ordinary citizens may find their tolerance slipping away every time they read something negative in the newspaper or on social media or perhaps experience something themselves, because so many of our opinions are influenced by our personal experiences. 

When our prime minister (polite, nice hair but politically inexperienced, champion of women’s rights until one disagreed with him), proudly but  naively proclaimed that Canada welcomes immigrants, he also opened the floodgates to over 40,000 illegal immigrants walking across the Canadian-US border at unofficial entry points, most fleeing possible US deportation.   What he actually meant was applying for it the usual way.   But can the steady stream of people wheeling their over-sized suitcases across the fields near the Quebec and western borders be considered “refugees” fleeing a war torn country, or are they “economic migrants” who have heard Canada is a good place?   The social services system in the big cities like Montreal and Toronto have run out of places to put them – they are housing them in hotels and calling on federal reimbursement for the millions spent accommodating them, as Ontario is already in a major-debt crisis, (346 billion and climbing, similar to California and Greece).   The refugee claimants are entitled to free social assistance, education and medical care while awaiting their hearing before the Immigration Board, for up to one year but often longer, as there aren’t enough immigration officers to process them all.   They are also allowed to apply for a temporary work permit after the claim is initiated but many have children to look after and who would hire them temporarily?   And just how do you sort out which ones might be ‘undesirables” – perhaps criminals or drug dealers back home.   It must be a difficult process doing background checks, if they can be done at all.   Recently, in an effort to stem the tide, the government enacted legislation to try and deter the “asylum-shoppers” – if they have already claimed asylum in the US then they will be deported back to await a hearing there.      

Years ago, borders between the nations were more fluid.  People moved to where there was work and stayed there.   Most of my grandfather’s siblings went to the US.    In 1913, the big Detroit car factories (GM and Ford) were just starting their production lines and needed workers, so they advertised $5/day, enticing many Canadians to move across the river.  But by the 1960’s, I remember my great Aunt Bea hesitating about visiting the farm in her old age, as she did not have any papers to show the border officer.   Another of my grandfather’s siblings went to Seattle to work in the logging industry in the 1920’s.   When he couldn’t get work the first year, the whole family picked apples.   Now, nobody wants to do that kind of manual labor anymore, so our fruit and vegetable farmers must hire Mexican or Jamaican seasonal workers through a government sponsored program.   My ancestors didn’t settle in the big city, they spread out to the rural areas where land was cheap and work available and settlers needed. 

Both my Irish and Dutch ancestors faced some prejudice as foreigners.  The Irish were universally hated, there were so many of them taking away all the jobs, but now 1/4 of North Americans can claim some Irish descent and no one thinks anything of it.   My mother remembers the teachers not liking the Dutch and foreign kids as the parents couldn’t speak English, one of the reasons most of the new immigrants prefer to stay in the big overcrowded cities.  Perhaps they feel more comfortable with their own kind, but often it is the opposite of what they might expect.   The people in the smaller towns may be more welcoming and the churches who were sponsoring the Syrian refugees and had raised enough money for a year to qualify, were delighted to have a family to help out.      

While Canada did take in it’s share of Syrian refugees, many are still unemployed.   It’s hard to find work when they can’t speak English or their English is poor.  The schoolkids always do better at picking it up.   For some their sponsorship money has run out and others have expressed the wish to return to their own country once things settle down – the winters here are too cold.   (Yes, Canada is a great country, except for the snow and the winters that drag on for six months and the high taxes).   One poor Syrian family lost all seven of their kids in a tragic house fire in Nova Scotia – such beautiful children all perished.   They may have wanted the promise of a better life, but sometimes that promise isn’t fulfilled.   

If a person is destitute they are glad of a safe haven anywhere, but is their new life what they expected?  (My Dutch ancestors stepped off the train in Niagara Falls into a foot of snow, and the Irish crew had heard Canada was a temperate climate requiring nothing more than a straw hat!)   Perhaps their lives are better overall, but are there regrets?   I wonder about the caravans coming over the southern US – Mexican border – if they don’t speak English do they even know what they are facing, or are they just fleeing from a situation which is even worse?   Are they aware they might be separated from their children (like my ancestors losing one son in the bush and never finding him).    Or is the hope and promise of a better life for their children worth the chance?     

In today’s era of entitlement, I have been reminded lately of the famous J.F. Kennedy quote “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”   While each individual case may be different, the goal is the same for everyone – hopefully each immigrant will become a hard working, law abiding, contributing and tax-paying citizen of their new country. 

Taxes – those necessary evils that help support our enviable social programs, and yes the taxes here (in our cradle to grave social state) can be as high as the snow.    But people can’t pay taxes if they’re here illegally under the radar.   If I wanted to move to Provence permanently as I hear the sun shines there 300 days of the year – and I’m there illegally and don’t pay taxes, eventually I would be sent right back to snowy Canada.  And if I insisted on butter tarts from le patisserie instead of macrons I would be deported tout suite!   

In addition to humanitarian concerns and human rights, each country also has the right to decide their own fate, to have a system in place which is fair and reasonable and not so costly that it deters the country from letting anyone in at all.   Which is what might happen if this heated issue continues to build steam.  The door will be closed to everyone.  You can already see individual countries everywhere (Australia for example where immigrant boats are diverted to an island offshore), tightening up their immigration policies.           

A recent UN survey states there are 227 million migrants in the world, people who have left their countries in search of work, to join their families or fleeing conflict.  There are probably another billion or two who would like the opportunity to leave.   47 million migrants said they would most like to move to Canada, a nation of just 37 million.  (I’m not sure how they arrived at this data other than through extrapolation).    Any country with a good standard of living, offering free social services and health care is attractive, witness the desire for many of the Syrians to travel north to Denmark and  Sweden.   But Canada lets in just 300,000 immigrants per year.   The dilemma is deciding who and how? 

We may want to help everyone, but can we afford to?   Canada is a big country land wise – maybe we could take in more people if we didn’t have to guarantee them so much, for so long?   What if social assistance was limited to six months, could we take in twice as many?   Three months, three times the amount?   Or just vet the applicants and open up the border like centuries ago and let everyone fend for themselves?   No, there are too many people now and the world has changed too much for that.   And what about human rights? 

Immigrants and asylum seekers have rights too, but sometimes a plea for help may seem like a demand, especially if there are large numbers  involved, a mob of people versus an orderly process.   “Let me in, support me financially while I’m waiting even if takes years, let me stay and let me appeal if you decide to deport me.”   Is this a right, a plea, a hope or a demand?   There’s everything good and decent and right about giving someone a helping hand, a start to a new life, and that’s what it should be, a start.   Our ancestors did it, they had no other choice.     

Fast forward a few decades to the future and the possible issue of mass migration and “climate refugees”.   If climate change evolves, and droughts and flooding and food shortages occur all over the world, will hordes of people be leaving their counties seeking food and shelter elsewhere?  If that happens more prosperous countries will simply shut their doors and take care of their own.  It will be every country for themselves, and every man for themselves.   Our face of humanity will be lost.   It’s disappearing now.  People are losing tolerance and empathy.   The immigration systems are strained and overwhelmed.   It’s something to think about and there are no easy answers, but we need to figure it out, sooner rather than later.       

To sum up, we all came from away at some point, even those white Europeans who came over with Columbus on the Santa Maria, but surely there is some middle ground somewhere, and room for reasonable discussion and action.   We need to learn to balance practicality with compassion, for the storm is coming.       

PS.  Your respectful thoughts and opinions are welcomed.

And because there’s always a book or two in my blogs, may I recommend some excellent reads on the refugee crisis.      

A fictionalized account, the Canadian novel The Boat People by Sharon Bala explores the Sri Lanka refugee boat incident from all angles – the refugees, their history and the workers in the legal and immigration systems who have to decide who can stay.   

Castaway: True Stories of Survival from Europe’s Refugee Crisis by journalist Charlotte MacDonald-Gibson, first hand reporting mixed with personal stories, told from an observer point of view leaving you to draw your own conclusions. 

Tears of Saltby Dr. Pietro Bartolo – memoir by an Italian physician of his many years of treating the many Mediterranean refugees who washed up on his small Italian island.   

They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky – The True Story of Three Lost Boys of Sudan   –  A  heartbreaking memoir by three orphaned cousins, aged 5 to 7,  who spent over ten years in a refugee camp before immigrating to the US in their teens.

First They Killed My FatherA Daughter of Cambodia Remembers – by Loung Ung  – memoir of life as a child soldier in a work camp during the days of the Khmer Rouge.  

In my shoes

(Next week I will return to my regularly scheduled non-political topics.   Also, when The Tall Ships visit this summer, I hope to blog about the replica of the Santa Maria, of Christopher Columbus fame.)

36 thoughts on “Come From Away

    • Joni says:

      It’s just plain difficult to solve and to discuss, and I don’t usually wander into political issues, but I had just finished two genealogy posts about immigration and got thinking about today’s dilemma. I hope no one finds it offensive….we seem to live in such a divided society now.

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  1. Shelley says:

    You’ve clearly thought a lot about the state of immigration. Coming from the US, I don’t have any better thoughts or answers to share. It is a global cultural concern, that’s for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. lindasschaub says:

    You really put a lot of effort into this post Joni – you always do but I think you outdid yourself this time. I had to smile at what you said about your PM … you/I can remember his father back in the day since we are the same age. I remember very well that dead baby which photo made the rounds on social media like wildfire, just like this picture of these children, notably the little girl, made the front page of every U.S. newspaper and probably “Life Magazine” – I remember seeing it: https://allthatsinteresting.com/napalm-girl

    What angers me as a Canadian living in America, who has had to deal with complications and setbacks in renewing my green card, is the fact that I live in a border city, speak the same language, have lived here since 1966 and never been in trouble with the law. How could I be perceived as a threat? And this was happening long before 9/11 that I had issues with renewal. People that try to get in here without the rigors of the immigration process is a kick in the pants to me.

    I will look forward to your Tall Ships post. I saw the “Christian Radich” at the Detroit riverfront and the Toronto Exhibit in 1976 when it was here from Norway for the tall ships parade. The replicas of the “Nina” and the “Pinta” from Columbus’ fleet were in Wyandotte at Bishop Park a few years ago and I went to see them. I did not go on the tour but just viewed them from the boardwalk and they were impressive. Here is a picture in this post: https://lindaschaubblog.net/2017/08/10/take-me-to-the-river/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Yes I imagine it would be very annoying seeing other people just show up and they seem to have more rights than someone who has lived there and paid taxes for decades. I remember Pierre Trudeau, flamboyant and very intelligent, his son probably should have waited until he was older and more experienced to run for PM, but he got talked into it, and has mishandled a whole lot of things, including a big corruption scandal at the moment. We are having an election in the fall, and he’s down in the polls it’s not likely he’ll be re-elected. Seems like we have nobody good to vote for, as I don’t like the other two party leaders either. I did put a lot of work into the post, but next week I’ll be happy to go back to non-political issues, much easier and more fun.

      Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        I’ve heard that about your PM too and yes he is all about the socks too but he is better than what we have by a long shot. Everyone is incensed about this Mueller report and between the immigrant situation and the Mueller report, and new firings or people leaving every day, you have to wonder (and shake your head).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        I think I prefer our Mr. Drama Teacher with the Socks and the Trust Fund, over Mr. Drama King with the Nasty Mouth and the Reality TV show. Polite and nice hair always triumphs over rude and orange hair. But seriously, you would be hard pressed to find any Canadian who likes Trump, because of the things that have gone on with Canadian-US relations, two countries who always got along before. I can even see why some Americans support him, the tax breaks and protecting jobs etc, but I don’t understand how they can overlook the rest of it, the rude behaviour and the contradictory comments. We were all in shock here when he got elected, but the constant drama now is so much worse. I am aware of the Mueller report and the weekly dramas etc as my mother gets CNN in her cable package. I don’t and when I watch the Canadian news maybe only 5 minutes is devoted to the days US highlights, that’s enough for me. I fear for the country if he gets re-elected, as it’s so divided. Not a good thing to see.

        Liked by 2 people

      • lindasschaub says:

        Every day it is something else and he begins ranting and raving on Twitter early in the morning and he is really hung up on something he goes on and on, Tweet after Tweet. He is petulant and like a child. I am on Obamacare and finally he has decided not to mess with it until after the election – that is likely because he thinks he will not get his way. I’m happy for that, for the time being anyway. Yes, he has said some hateful things about Canada and other countries as well.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Mabel Kwong says:

    This is a great write-up of immigration and migration in Canada through the decades, which I see has its similarities here in Australia. It is interesting how one distinguishes someone who is a refugee and one who is an asylum seeker, and really who needs aid and protection so they can continue their lives. I also think the media and some of us use these two terms interchangeably, not knowing the difference between the two. It is true boats with people seeking a new life are not allowed into Australia right away, and instead diverted to an offshore island. Not sure how long they spend there – sometimes a long uncertain time and there have been suggestions of abuse and self-harm on the island.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Thanks for reading Mabel. I think you might be my first Australian commentor! I think of Australia as similar to Canada. I tried to avoid discussing the US immigration problem as even though we are neighbours, as it is a whole different situation. Thanks for stopping by.

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      • Mabel Kwong says:

        Oh wow, possibly your first Australian commentor! Amazing 🙂 Immigration is always a touchy subjects, and I think you did well touching upon the issue in Canada, US and other places as well. Everyone will have their opinion on these situations – it depends on if they are directly or indirectly affected or not at all. Again, a great write and thanks for writing 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. www.rosesintherainmemoir.wordpress.com says:

    Oh, Joni, I had no idea that Canada was suffering under the same, or similar, immigration issues as we are, nor that this has become a global situation. You raise far more questions than provide answers. What are the answers? Are there any answers? I certainly have none. Perhaps only half suggestions that don’t really alleviate the problems.

    What’s the difference between refugees and asylum seekers? Refugees usually are fleeing natural catastrophes whereas asylum seekers are fleeing political upheavals. Both groups are “fleeing for their lives,” literally. Do we choose? If so, how?

    Migrants, on the other hand, follow the jobs, usually agriculturally based jobs. At least, that’s how it’s been in the past as Mexicans migrate up to California and even here to Washington state. Some have chosen to stay, either legally by applying for citizenship, or by hiding in community trenches. This area has seen both. My own yard man was a migrant on a green card/visa, married an American woman “white as Wonder Bread” (I loved that expression, Joni!) so he could stay; he put down solid roots, fathered children who now are adults, either in college or working. However, he has been unable to complete his citizenship requirements because of some sort of snafu his paperwork, although he has an immigration attorney working with him.

    Since Mr. T began his rantings and ravings and threats to deport all Mexicans, etc., I have been on tender hooks that this faithful worker suddenly will be snatched up in the night, so to speak, and deported. In fact, he dare not visit his sister in Mexico for fear he’ll not be allowed back into the United States. And that’s just one example. All I can do for him is pray for discernment and wisdom.

    This is such a serious crisis that I took the liberty of posting your essay on my Facebook, and invited respectful responses.

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    • Joni says:

      I don’t mind if you post it on Facebook Jo as long as it doesn’t cost a problem for you. It can be a divisive topic. There really are no easy answers, but I was interested in the topic of how immigration is today versus years ago when we took in everyone. Of course there are more people in the world now and many more unstable countries people are fleeing from. I struggled with the definitions of asylum seekers, refugees, and economic migrants too, but here’s a link to Wikepeida, not necessarily an expert opinion, but somewhat helpful. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asylum_seeker When it says “An asylum seeker is a type of migrant and may be a refugee, a displaced person, but not an economic migrant. Migrants are not necessarily asylum seekers. A person becomes an asylum seeker by making a formal application for the right to remain in another country. Generally from my reading, you are a refugee if you are fleeing war, persecution, threat to life, etc. “A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. ” Whereas an “economic migrant” is ” someone who emigrates from one region to another, seeking an improved standard of living, because the conditions or job opportunities in the migrant’s own region are insufficient.[1][2] The United Nations uses the term migrant worker.[3]

      Although the term economic migrant is often confused with the term refugee, economic migrants leave their regions primarily due to harsh economic conditions, not fear of persecution on the basis of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership of a particular social group.[4] Economic migrants are generally not eligible for asylum, unless the economic conditions they face are severe enough to have caused generalised violence, or seriously disturbed the public order.” I will send this as it is long, and comment separately.

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    • Joni says:

      Jo, your yard man would probably fit into the category of a seasonal worker/migrant here in Canada, a perfectly legal program sponsored through the Canadian government to supply workers, although we don’t have Green cards here. Most of these workers are here 6 months of the year to make enough to support their families and then go home to spend time with their families. Given that so many of these US migrants have lived in the US for so long, like your yard man and now have established lives and families, it would be ideal if the US government could grant them citizenship, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon with Trump in power. Here each refugee is assigned an immigration lawyer to help them through the paperwork and legal aspects. We don’t have that many migrants here, it’s more a problem lately with people entering the country illegally like the border streamers. But from what I read, fleeing from economic hardship does not qualify someone for refugee status and approval. Interestingly, with that Sri Lanka boat in BC in 2010, 85% of the asylum seekers claims were approved, because most of them were fleeing persecution, and thus qualified as a refugee. Plus there were only 500. I don’t know much about the Sri Lanka civil war other than it was brutal. But with thousands of people walking across the Canadian/border at Quebec, only 20% of claims are being approved. Most of these are people in the US illegally, mostly from Haiti, Jamaica and Nigeria. They are not being approved because they are fleeing poverty, not war or political unrest. It does seem cruel to turn away people from Haiti one of the poorest countries, but the fear is they won’t be able to get jobs and will sit on the welfare rolls, when the country already has so much debt. I don’t know enough about the situations in those Central American countries, and the caravans coming across the Mexican/US border to comment, but the dilemma is, are they fleeing danger to life, violence and political unrest, or poverty or a combination of both? Hard to sort it all out which makes processing each claim so difficult and time consuming. I will comment on personal experience separately.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      I struggled whether to write the paragraph about personal experiences influencing people’s perceptions of all immigrants, but ended up including it, as it helps explain why people are becoming less tolerant today, although I made it more general. Even if you are allowing in educated workers who can support themselves, you can still have bad outcomes. A Toronto newspaper recently published an expose on the amount of fraudulent billing of our Health Care System, all of it done by immigrant professionals, most for large sums of money, $200,000 and up. What message does this send, a country is kind enough to let you in, allow you a license and let you practice here, and you repay them with fraud? One of my former colleagues was charged with trafficking in narcotics. Trafficking! We were shocked, he didn’t need the money, he already made a good wage. Sadly these cases are becoming more common here.

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      • www.rosesintherainmemoir.wordpress.com says:

        Good grief! The U. S. Medicare system, also, has been and is being frauded. We are cautioned to review EVERY Medicare statement we receive to make sure each charge is legitimate. So far, I’ve questioned a few things but found out they were appropriate. It’s the price of pharmaceuticals that drive me up the wall.

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    • Joni says:

      Thanks Denise…..is is a complicated issue and I did put a lot of effort into it, and had more to say but figured 3000 words was enough! I’ll now return to my regular non-political topics! I’m deep into kitchen designs, have consulted with four different companies in the past two weeks, and am just getting quotes back….I’m thinking there’s too much choice, but on the other hand have not seen exactly quite what I had envisioned, so I’m persisting, but not finding it fun at all. I am now remembering why I quit renovating….maybe I should just hire you!

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  5. DougD says:

    Hi, I arrived here via JP Canavagh’s blog. You raise some good points, it is complicated indeed. My parents are dutch too and came as teenagers with their families. My mother had lots of stories how she was treated very poorly in Hamilton for not being British, they were the first non-British family on their street.
    Our church has sponsored a couple of Syrian families, as you say the parents will survive but the children are very smart and motivated, they will do well. But not everyone can make it to Canada, I worked in China for a few months and everyone I met wanted to get out. Say hello to a billion people who want to come to Canada. Complicated.
    I’ll disagree with you on the taxes though. There’s two great reasons to love paying taxes. First off, that means I made money! Second I get to contribute to running this great country, I’ve been to enough other countries to know a good deal when I see one. Now wastage I don’t like, but I have no problem with taxes.
    One point that the USA seems to have backwards is cutting the aid to Central American countries as a response to migrants. That’ll just make it worse, as rich countries we have a responsibility to help others. It’s complicated, but that’s not an excuse to keep trying.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Joni says:

      Hi Doug D – thanks for reading, and for your opinions! Did your parents come in the great wave of Dutch immigration after WW2? I blogged about my grandparents in my blog, Dutch Inheritance, but they came in 1922, after WW1. Here’s the link in case you are interested. https://thehomeplaceweb.com/2019/04/11/dutch-inheritance/ My mother who grew up in the Depression, well remembers the prejudice even though she is now 93. Re your church sponsored Syrian families, how have they settled in? Have they been able to find work? That seems to be the main issue for everyone. I worked for 40 years and never minded paying taxes, never even really thought about it, just considered my 33% just part of paying for our wonderful social programs. I never resented it the way some people do, but now I worry that those programs won’t be available now that I am too old to work. I hate the way all governments (liberal/conservative/provincial/federal) waste our money, and add to the debt. I believe in fiscal responsibility. I agree, we do have a good deal here in Canada, it’s the best country in the world! And I hope it stays that way. You raise a good point re the immigration issue is complicated, but that’s not an excuse not to keep trying….but I fear that might happen. Like in Hilter’s Germany, people just get immune to tragedy and cruelty and it becomes every man for himself.

      Like

      • DougD says:

        The Syrian family seems to be settling in. Luckily there is a Syrian community in Hamilton for them to plug into, that seems to help a lot.
        The dad was an engineer in Syria, but the best he can do here is a janitor job, sadly the days are gone when any immigrant could go downtown and find a manufacturing job that would pay the bills.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        That is sad…..but maybe something better will come up for him. All those manufacturing jobs seem to be leaving. I remember the first Syrian family off the plane and Trudeau welcoming him at the airport – he was an obstetrician and I wondered if he would be able to get licensed here.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. J P says:

    This is a thorny question and you have examined it quite fairly. I am an American who tends conservative, but find myself far more in favor of generous immigration policies than many. But, as you note, there are limits.

    In the recent past I have found the American system somewhat stingy in legal admittance but lax in enforcement. But in the last couple of years the numbers coming in have exploded. I live far away from southern entry points so have not experienced the emergency situation they have been faced with. Sadly, it seems like both parties have been using immigration as a political cudgel rather than as an issue to solve.

    In my own experience, those Mexican and central American immigrants who have made it to my area have developed a reputation as hard-working people who have taken jobs that are otherwise hard to fill. Those who came in illegally have usually gotten jobs with faked social security numbers and have thus paid taxes in that way, usually without filing for refunds they would otherwise be entitled to. There have, of course, been some who have turned to gangs and crime. In my own state, many drive without insurance because they cannot get drivers licenses and insurance policies will not pay for accidents of unlicensed drivers. When fake licenses were more easily available, the rate of insurance purchase among illegals was quite high.

    I think we have been fortunate compared to Europe. Here, immigrants from central and south America tend to come from a more-or-less western culture and have often plugged into local Catholic communities when they have arrived. There has been a lot of spanish speaking, but otherwise the cultures have been not too far off from our own. Much European immigration has come from the middle east and north Africa, where the differences have been not only religious but from a culture very unlike Europe’s. Add in what I understand to be a reluctance on both sides towards assimilation and there is everything needed for societal conflict.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Joni says:

      Thank you for reading and for your opinions….and for making some very good points. We don’t have many Spanish people here. We don’t even really have the issue of Illegal “migrants” coming in and doing work no one else will do, as we have a government sponsored seasonal workers program, whereby Mexican workers just come for the agricultural season to make money and then go back home to live with their families. It’s not considered a route to permanent status though. A local pepper plant/greenhouse recently was fined $150,000 for illegally bringing in Thai workers, so the hefty fines discourage companies from sidetracking the system. Most of the people walking across our border points, are from Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Nigeria. The acceptance rate is only about 20% (as they are not considered true refugees) and the process is slow, with many waiting two years on the welfare rolls before their hearing. I voted liberal for years, but tend to be more conservative in my old(er) age, mostly because I see the government wasting our tax dollars on things we can’t afford and adding to the already massive debt. I also acknowledge I am somewhat less sympathetic towards the immigration crisis than I used to be, mostly due to bad personal experiences the last few years of my (40 year) career. I’m retired now, but it’s hard not to allow your personal experiences to colour your perceptions. I wish there was a better way to screen who they let in, as having a license does not mean you are skilled and knowledgeable by our standards. And for me the ethics issue is a big factor, having grown up Catholic with a healthy does of morals and work-ethic. Lots of corruption in my profession the past ten years, and a big expose recently in a Toronto paper, about overbilling of the medical system. Shockingly, a few of my colleagues were even charged with trafficking in narcotics, although they don’t see to lose their license?? I am curious, if a lawyer say from Nigeria, wanted to get licensed in the US, would he be allowed to practice there? I think Canada is way too lenient in many ways. I doubt you could get a faked Social Insurance number here, but certainly you can’t get a license plate to put on your car without showing insurance first, although I suppose you could fake the insurance. We have No Fault Insurance here. Many people drive with suspended or no license however. I would not want to be in Europe or Britian’s situation dealing with their immigration crisis, although I found those books I mentioned to be a fascinating read.

      Liked by 2 people

    • www.rosesintherainmemoir.wordpress.com says:

      What you stated about Mexican and Central American immigrants, even illegals, settling down in legitimate jobs and immersing themselves in our culture sounds very much like Washington state, where I live. Our own Catholic diocese is becoming more predominantly Hispanic, too, and many of our priests born in Mexico or Panama. They are fully embraced as American citizens, our neighbors, our workers; and those still working on their citizenship status are assigned attorneys specializing in immigration issues. Still, the situation has become a huge mess in the current administration.

      Liked by 1 person

      • www.rosesintherainmemoir.wordpress.com says:

        By the way, my trustworthy Mexican yard man came legally decades ago, got a green card, married, raised children, and continues to work on his citizenship — but with difficulty. Something about the paper work from the past. He says he doesn’t have the money to afford a private attorney. All I can do is pray for his situation.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        You’d think if someone has been in the country for decades and never caused any problems, then they should be allowing that person to become a citizen. Haven’t they already provided proof they are an outstanding citizen.

        Like

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