I often wonder how many undocumented immigrants of European and Canadian descent we have in the United States. I have always assumed it was a nominal number because most of the controversy surrounding sanctuary cities and the deportation of undocumented immigrants revolves around Muslims and Mexicans.
According to the Pew Research Center, immigration has decreased for Alabama, California, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Nevada and South Carolina. While immigration to Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington has risen. There has also been a steady decline in the number of Mexicans migrating to the US. And most of the Mexican immigrants I encounter, through the school system, express a desire to return home, once they have acquired enough capital to establish themselves financially in a country with a relatively high rate of unemployment.
Because I live on the Detroit river, right across from Canada, I feel some degree of discomfort with the focus on the southern borders. If immigration is decreasing in states along the southern borders and the Midwest, and increasing in the northern and Atlantic coastal states, then shouldn’t we be more focused on protecting the northern border and our coasts than the southern border?
But, maybe I’m looking at this the wrong way. Maybe we should be modelling Canada’s immigration policy, rather than relying on race, ethnicity, and religion to revamp our own. Because in Canada, immigrants have to undergo a more rigorous vetting process than they do in the United States. A process based on a nine point rubric. Instead of considering race, religion, or ethnicity when vetting prospective immigrants, according to an article in the New York Times, Canada considers economic factors. Factors like the individual’s “age, education, job skills, language ability and other attributes that define their potential contribution to the national work force.”
It works so well for our northern neighbor that we are quick to mock, that Canada’s current cabinet has more Sikhs than India’s. At one point their governors general hailed from Haiti and Hong Kong. The governor general being the ceremonial head of state. And in Canada, half of the immigrants come with a college degree and the children of immigrants read at the same level as the natives. Canada’s immigrants are also twenty percent more likely to own a home, and seven percent less likely to live in poverty than immigrants in America.
So if we were to model our immigration policy after that of the Canadians, and adopt the same attitude as them; race, religion and ethncity become less important than what the individual can contribute to our culture and society. We could forget about that wall on the Mexican border. We wouldn’t have to worry about whether the individual seeking immigration status is an Islamic extremist, or some unidentified member of some Mexican drug cartel. And as my Arabic students tell me, we could stop focusing on race, and begin to appreciate one another more for what we contribute to society instead.