Saturday was a really nice day here. So after the moving business was over and seeing that I found out no one was going to be home for a bit, I decided to stop on Bloor Street West and chill for a few. Just needed to enjoy the weather a bit and I knew once I reached home I'd find some task to keep me busy and I wouldn't get any rest (which is exactly what happened when I finally reached and the lawn called my name).
So I stopped at a spot, grabbed a drink (non-alcoholic) and held a lil' lime while reading Marquez Garcia's General in his labyrinth. Didn't do the patio thing though cause as a child of the warmth I admire the sunshine but I'm not that keen on eating outside with the flies and bees. By the way what is it that attracts so many eyes when a black guy is reading? Is it that peculiar a sight?
Anyway as I chilled indoors, enjoying my book, out of nowhere there was the sound of loud speakers and a big protest rolled into view. It was a protest against the deportation of illegal immigrants here in Canada.
Yep the illegal immigrant issues in the U.S have had a lot of press lately but we in Canada have had our recent issues as well, as this newly elected Federal government seems to be more strict in enforcing immigration laws.
As I sat there watching the protest a couple of thoughts popped into my head.
I thought of the heart wrenching stories of illegal immigrant families who had been in Canada for well over 10 maybe even 20 years who were recently unceremoniously cast out, sent back to a place the adults barely remember and the children regard as a foreign country. In those cases I really feel for the children who have little if any memory of their country of birth having spent almost all of their years in Canada. That's really sad in my opinion.
I also thought, and this probably makes me sound really conservative somehow, but isn't it nice that illegal immigrants, people who have/are breaking the law can actually protest openly and not really fear that the police will descend on them and drag them off to jail and deport them all. Not sure how many countries worldwide one could do that in. It sort of reminds me of back in '98 when those Vincentian marijuana farmers protested against the US destroying their crops. My isn't it nice the freedoms we experience in this hemisphere. We've got to value them before they are taken from us.
I also thought, and I can only speak the truth here although it may sound strange coming from one who is already stricken with the label immigrant, that I'm not sure I support this protest.
Yes the individual stories are heartwrenching but so are some of the stories of those forced to steal or prostitute to make money to survive yet although I feel sympathy for them when they go to jail I cant really support their actions. Its the same here, I feel badly for someone who built up a life here and then had it cruelly plucked from beneath them but at the same time you came here illegally. You broke the law and at some point you did know it could or would come back to haunt you.
Plus as someone who came here legally and went through the numerous lengthy and costly bureaucratic processes and red tape in order to get student, work and landed status the fact that someone can come into the country illegally and then protest being deported is sort of a slap in my face I think. It makes me feel like a sucker. Here I am playing by the rules and they can come in and get basically the same life as me without the major outlay of cash that I put up or the red tape, the time delays, the interviews and the like. Then to top it all off they are protesting openly against deportations. Damn!
Actually I'm kind of conflicted about what I just said though. On the one hand I feel like I shouldn't be saying bad things about immigrants because I myself am one. Like I'm feeling like I'm making comments like one of those Reform cats who made sweeping asinine generalizations about Jamaicans or black folk or immigrants in Toronto and crime or something like that back in the day (oh just for the record though most of these illegal immigrants are not black) by saying what I just said. Damn I'm a sellout doing the man's job for him. Shouldn't I be showing solidarity with my immigrant brothers and sisters?
But on the other hand to be completely honest with myself I just cant really side with the protesters because of the reason I listed previously. How many would be legal immigrants are on hold trying to go through the mire of red tape, proving why they want to come here and that they would be valuable citizens, getting police records and bank statements and a million and one documents as proof of their skills and intentions, and paying a head tax, patiently waiting for some Canadian Immigration official to get to their file so they can come here and these cats jump the line, come here illegally and then get upset about being deported.
And I'm supposed to have sympathy? Sorry I know I probably should but I cant really lie and say that I do.