Oh, Canada! Aside from the cold and the baby seal clubbing it sounds like an amazing place. So amazing I have lost another family member to its subtle allure.
My uncle, who has spent a decade trying to legally remain in the U.S. has cut his losses and say goodbye to the good ol’ U.S. of A.
In the past two weeks I have learned of two people that I know who have been stopped randomly by the cops and taken to Krome (the detention facility in South Florida). These people have all been stopped on their way to work. Imagine that, minding your own business you get up that morning thinking that the day is going to be another day of toiling around for a few bucks and that you will be at the end of the day back at home, with your family, ready to watch some Caso Cerrado (Latin court TV). When wham! What these two individuals didn’t know was that this day wasn’t going to be like the others. That today was the end of the journey they had started years ago. That today in spite of being a hard working law abiding non-citizen they would be treated like common criminals and thrown in a detention facility and all the dreams and plans for tomorrow were over.
These cops aren’t stopping the many criminals roaming the streets; oh no, they are targeting hard working immigrants who happen to be illegal. What’s the sense in that? These two people I know worked their asses off, six to seven days a week to provide for their families. What’s the crime here? They aren’t bleeding the state of any funds because they aren’t eligible for any help from the government because of their lack of status, they aren’t robbing anyone of their jobs because I have yet to meet the first American who wants to do the job they do, the only law they broke was driving without a valid driver’s license. Yet there they sit at Krome, waiting to be taken away from the country like criminals while the rest of their family decides to uproot themselves and leave a country that doesn’t want them but that has become home nonetheless.
That easily could have been me. Except that I have the good luck of having DH to drive me everywhere I need to be. But what if I didn’t? What if while I waited for my case to be over I was driving to and from work, the work I am not allowed to have (oh because I am such a rebel, cleaning houses without their permission, how dare I?!) and they stop me and take me to Krome….oh let me tell you that would be the stupidest move they could make, because I am not the preferred target of INS. They like their spics scared stupid and ignorant of their rights. Yes, crazy people who hate immigrants, we do have rights, you may not to acknowledge them but we do. So I don’t fit the profile of their preferred victims, because I am not ignorant and while I would probably be scared for a few minutes there would be another emotion that would quickly taker over fear, anger. And I am fucking loud when I am angry. They need to pick up more people like me, people that can tell them off in their own language, people who aren’t afraid of them, people who get loud, people who ask to call their lawyers, people who realize they aren’t the powers that be; they aren’t the end all and be all of the law.
My family member was on his way to Canada this morning. To look for that famous American Dream that ended being nothing but a mirage. He did everything right, like I did, tried the proper channels, like I have. Worked hard and paid his taxes even though he didn’t have to, like I have. For what? For nothing, he has nothing to show for the decade of hard work he has put in this country.
The problem is that Americans don’t realize is that he isn’t the first one to leave, nor will he be the last. Who wins when hardworking people leave a country? The country most definitely doesn’t. So what will America have to show for when one by one hardworking immigrants leave? Do they realize that Hispanic immigrants make up for the largest minority in the US? That entire markets in the US target us specifically? That there are 50 million of us here in the country and we cannot longer be ignored. Ignoring us or pretending to wean out the undesirables while making it impossible for the ones interested in legally remaining in the country doesn’t fix the “problem”.
While part of me is filled with furious indignation because of the fate of the people I know who now sit in Krome, the other part of me is simply resigned, resigned that Florida has come to so closely resemble the Arizona of mid 2010, resigned that Canada or some other country looks so damn attractive and seems to be calling my name.
This country has plenty of policies, customs and traditions that I don’t agree with, nor understand, but slowly yet surely the other many, many things that I approve of have wiggled themselves into my being and turned me into who I am today. I love it here, this is my home now and it hurts to think that in the future I will have to make the same decision that took my relative so long to make. Leave here.
It feels much like the stabbing pangs of unrequited love. Loving a place so much, liking its craziness and enjoying how nonsensical it is just to realize after ten years that that place you cherish doesn’t quite feel the way you do.
There is nothing to do but sigh. Sigh and be happy that this time it wasn’t me, that this time it wasn’t a family member that this time it didn’t hit close to home like it could’ve. These are mere acquaintances but what if next time is someone closer? What if next time is me? What if next time I have to be the one to leave?
Praying started sounding like a waste of time years ago and I sure as hell ain’t picking that up now. There is nothing to do but act; I am not the praying kind, twiddling my thumbs while I wait for some superior power to solve my problems. My frustration knows no bounds because I have nothing to do but seethe in indignation and wait for my circumstances to change what I could do is done; now we wait.
I can’t help but wonder though, what about the others who aren’t like me? What about those who aren’t as lucky?