The Canadian Dream — Wait What?
Recently, the BBC released an article stating that one in five of Canada’s population is foreign born, a historical first (2017). Many of us here at Andrews celebrate this achievement, especially our Canadian students. But others will no doubt take this time to once again take a critical look at America’s attitude concerning immigration. As a clear comparison between the two countries, Canada accepted about 25,000 Syrian refugees last year between January and May. The U.S., on the other hand, accepted 10,000 Syrian refugees as of last September (The Washington Post, 2016). This difference in numbers does not instill images of an America that celebrates its diverse, foreign-born population. Naturally we are all aware of President Trump and his cabinet’s attempts to pass what have been criticized as “Muslim bans.” Not to mention, many of President Trump’s supporters occupy the far-right side of immigration policy, much to the disappointment of many Americans.
This current atmosphere has made many of us in Generation Y become disheartened over the U.S.’s status concerning immigration, in comparison with Canada’s. It seems as if the U.S. is outpaced in terms of immigration flow compared to our northern neighbor. This is a bad sign. I would like to believe that the United States is a pillar of diversity and progression in the world, and I believe the fact that some of our top economic companies are run by people who were not born in this country attests to that. But alas! There are some in our midst who would align themselves with so-called “anti-immigrant” policies. There are some we consider enemies in the fight for fair and just immigration laws, and we are quick to point the finger at those more conservative than us.
I would, however, argue that this is not the case. As evidence, famously conservative news site Fox News has published a poll claiming the contrary. Yes, you read that correctly. This recent poll by Fox News states that thirty-two percent of people questioned believe that there should be a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants (Balara, 2017). Even if you question the accuracy or bias of Fox News, it shows that some do wish for increased opportunities for immigrants, even amongst people whom we assume would be against it.
So what is the problem? Why is America behind other countries such as Canada in terms of foreign-born citizens? Why is it so hard for us to fix this issue that we all can agree needs fixing? My answer is this: in today’s social climate, it is much easier to focus on the differing opinions we hold than on the similarities. I am sure you can name at least one of your classmates or maybe even one of your friends whose ideological, political or social views diverge wildly from yours. This forces us to take sides in an Us vs. Them battlefield in our struggle for social change. It also blinds us to the issues that could potentially unite us, like America’s current method of immigration.
My argument is not one that states that everyone will completely agree on immigration. Rather, I believe that there are more aspects of agreement in immigration than we care to see. We should refrain from acting as if every one of our ideals needs to be fought for and defended with tooth and nail. We shouldn’t submit to the idea that disagreements and strife will automatically be a part of discussion. Instead, we must be more open to the idea that we might share common ground. In place of becoming worried the next time discussion turns to issues like immigration, remember that you could be surprised. Agreement I believe, outweighs strife more often than not, and we should open our eyes to that.