Monday, June 09, 2008

"Claire and I are more than a little nervous, should I get a job in the states, about bringing in my "foreign-born" wife. The US immigration system is notoriously labrynthine and screwed up, which you can read all about in the stories at My Immigration Story! Also, Claire isn't keen on taking up arms to support the US, and God knows how long it would take to naturalize her, or if it would be worth it for a contract position. And, of course, lots of people go through the system and get totally screwed. But, if we live there without doing it, we could screw that up too. I'm probably "illegally" in France right now. Oh, and let's not forget that Claire has free health care now, and we are not moving anywhere that she doesn't. Period."

so i just read this and felt my two cents were left out on this post. i had a few points and since you never know if people read the comments...well i felt i had to post. once again, it's not highly intelligent banter so skip it if you were looking for something lofty.

first thing: canadians do bitch about immigrants, just not the kind that rufus is. we have a points system and he scores highest in every category (age, country of origin, he speaks both our official languages, he's highly educated, healthy, married to a canadian etc. etc.) rufus looks and acts pretty much like every canadian you see. but there are issues. we are less accomodating of people who speak poor english or who have different cultural values that "the norm" and you can see this exemplified perfectly in my profession when it comes to providing services to people; it can be very ethnocentric toward "the norm". we're working on it, and there are job ads that ask for people from specific cultures to provide services people, women's services comes to mind immediately. okay.

second thing: ruf, you kind of made me out to be this ameri-phobe. or i percieved it that way. he's right, i won't take up arms or even say that i will (like, fuck that.) but that's true of anywhere i might go, that is my ethical stance and it won't change. but rufus forgot to put in that when i married him i knew what i was getting into, and the possibilities that lay ahead, and that above all, i will go with him where he needs to go to work. it's a simple concept. social workers/psychotherapists are needed everywhere so i'm not worried about work. my primary concern is the healthcare system, as a person with a disability it's really upsetting to think about leaving a situation where i am stable and taken care of and i know the system. any change can throw it off and that is scarier than the prospect of living in north dakota. or worse, florida. i'm not against america, land of the little 6-packs of powdered donettes that i so enjoy, but i have a healthy handle on what it will mean to move there. now go to some other web-page. this sort of emotional-barf up isn't usually my style and it's embarassing.



Brian Dunbar said...

About the 'take up arms' thing - you've got an out.

You can be a conscientious objector and get out of the 'carrying arms' deal in the United States.

Or at least you can if you're a citizen - dunno why that wouldn't be the case for a new citizen.

Doesn't mean you can't serve in the armed forces of course. AFAIK they won't use COs unless there is a draft, and then they're put to work in non-combat roles: no carrying arms required.

Rufus said...

No, it's not emotional barf. I see what you're saying. I'm also not nearly as clear when I write these things on the spur of the moment, like I did here. And it's always good to hear from someone who isn't me.

1. Point taken about the Canadian problems with immigrants. It's certainly not perfect and I've met many people who say that the point system can be a nightmare. And no, the services can be just as labrynthine and annoying in Canada as anywhere else.

But I did say by contrast it was better and I was talking more about on the cultural level. Canada has the highest rate of immigration and very little of it is coming from the US. But, unlike some other countries, there haven't been immigrant riots in Canada (as far as I know), nor have there been anti-immigrant riots (ditto). You haven't had dozens of new organizations spring up with names like "Canada for Canadians" whose sole work is bashing immigrants. You don't have the Minutemen, or dozens of new laws targeting anyone who hasn't made it through the immigration system yet. And you definitely don't have talk show hosts whose bread and butter is bashing immigrants. This is all for the best.

I definitely see what you're saying about Canada not being the land of milk and maple syrup for immigrants, but please remember that about half of my conversations with American relatives or acquaintances now eventually turn to them telling me about all the problems caused by "the Mexicans". So far, the only Canadian who has wanted to talk about something similar with me was the crazy man who owns the "bookstore" down the street. So, what I would say here is that I'm probably very sheltered in who I know in Canada and it's certainly not perfect. But I am still impressed by the Canadian demeanor.

2. Yeah, that line doesn't make sense. Again, I typed that post out too quickly and well... I assumed, wrongly, that it was clear that I was just saying that you're not a "taking up arms" type of gal and that the US is one of the only places that asks. So I'm glad you pointed that out.

My main point in posting about this was really just to link to that page and try to explain how much of a pain in the ass the US immigration system is and that the US will lose good people this way. Canada is definitely a pain too though.

Holly said...

... since you asked...

I'm kind of biased, but all of it seemed pretty sensible (the previous post, and this one). One need not be allergic to the American system to find it troubling, and alien. Even Americans can find the system troubling and alien. Alienating, even.

Probably MOST countries have their sense of Who Has Caused The Trouble, and it changes depending on what the trouble is, and who is least in a position to defend against such allegations.

Never actually heard anyone accuse Canadians of causing The Trouble.

Claire, your post doesn't come across as overly emotional, by the way. And in any case, nationality and where we live IS an emotional issue.

The U.S. *is* losing good people to these attitudes, certainly. The policies and the attitudes are so closely related...

narrator said...

I start with dual citizenship, so this isb interesting. Every place has some "problem" with immigrants when cultures do not match. And "America" is a wildly diverse place. You get a job at NYU you'll be in one environment. You go to work at Florida State, it might be another. But I will say that I wouldn't voluntarily take the US citizenship oath. I've never come across another like it (and I've looked at plenty). It is representative of the fact that the US has the oldest (save for San Marino) political structure on the planet, rooted in concepts from 250 years ago. It isn't just the "elite republic" which survives (the least representative political system of any "democracy"), there is also an early-nationalism, almost feudal loyalty idea.

That said, each country decides who fits in in its own way. For France, how you speak French, what you eat. For the English, where you went to school, your religion (or lack thereof), Germany and Italy are intensely concerned about ethnic identity. The US is largely about which church you attend. Immigrants who comply religiously are thought of much more highly than those who don't (this has always worked against African-Americans since church membership in the US is completely segregated black/white).

But I'll say this. I've known at least twenty Canadian profs in my time on US campuses, and all but maybe 3 have returned to Canada at the first chance. The reasons being partly cultural but heavily social - the health care system, the education system, general societal support. As one put it (retreating to Wlifred-Laurier) "I need to get back to a civilised country."

clairev said...

BD: yeah, i mean i'm not terribly worried that i'm going to get my US passport and an my complimentary AK47, or that i'd ever be called upon (i happen to be 'crazy' and i would use that to my full advantage if needed). also i'm sure there are outs like you mentioned. i can't be the only CO out there.

r: okay. between our shared experiences of canadians and americans, so far the canucks are better at masking their intolerance.

h: yeah. it is an emotional issue. i was pretty restrained when i wrote that actually...there's a lot of gooey love stuff that is attached to rufus and our plans to move wherever. you can intellectualize immigration and what it means, but truly, the core of why he is here and why i would move is love and the need for us to be together. so it's tensely, highly charged with emotion for us. so maybe it felt emotional.

n: i have several members of my family who have dual citizenship, they have either moved or married americans, we've talked about "the oath" before. i've never read it so i can't speak with authority but apparently there is a slippery little section that is optional where you can actually renounce your country of origins' citizenship. not sure if that is just a scary myth or not. i'm not surprised about the profs...i find the education system to be a bit backward down south, however this is likely because it's not native to me. and finally, as a laurier grad, i have to say it must have been an awful place he was in to want to go back to kitchener ontario!!

thx for the comments...