Sunday, June 08, 2008

My Foreign Bride

One humbling thing for me about visiting Europe was discovering that people here bitch about "foreigners" nearly as much as they do in the US. In France, it's Arab immigrants and Romanian panhandlers they gripe about. My Paris logeuse was actually quite verbal about her problems with the Romanians, as well as which neighborhoods to stay out of because "they have les blacks". In Italy, there's been a debate about whether or not Asian immigrants can actually make pasta, if it's in their DNA or not. I have no idea myself about the pasta gene, but have the breathtaking cultural theory that Chinese restaraunts are good with the noodles.

And there you have it. The problem in Italy and France is much like that in the US: the younger generation does not want to work in such "demeaning" jobs as cook, day care worker, laborer, etc. and so there's a job shortage. Meanwhile, people in less wealthy countries see an opening there. Et voilà! It's really not a problem for anyone until food and rent prices go up and then they find it easier to blame the Algerian cashier than the supermarket owner. And so, you end up with the same paranoia and discomfort as you have in the US, albeit with better-organized support in France for the sans papiers.

To be honest, I would note that America is better at actually assimilating people, but bitch more openly about them; while Europe is horrible about assimilation, but keeps their complaints quiet. By contrast, Canada- which has the largest rate of immigration in the world, thank you very much- seems remarkably untroubled by it. I have yet to be told, "Take off, eh!" But, I also have yet to hear a lot of complaints about immigrants in general. We have no Lou Dobbs.

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.

The end result of this is that a social worker with a Master's degree and a history teacher with a PhD will most likely wind up looking for work in Canada, which is still fairly open to immigrants, and not in the US, which is decidedly not. If you wonder why I'm a bit sick of Americans who bitch about the foreigners who are tekkin der jobs, well it's probably because that's my wife they're talking about.


Anonymous said...

Canadian universities always post in their job ads that priority will be given to Canadian citizens. So good luck with that... unless you can become a natualized Canuck, which may be an option.

- Boris

Rufus said...

Ezzzackly! The plan is to become a citizen by the time I'm through with grad school. Theoretically, the process begins as soon as I become a permanent resident.