The United States, when I grew up, was proud to proclaim itself a nation of immigrants. Recently, it seems, many Americans are still proud of the place their family immigrated from, but cite it to put themselves above what they see as the lesser herd of foreigners from other places who also live in America.
Pushing this tide of racism and snobbery is fear, particularly the manufactured fear of an immigrant invasion, the ridiculous inflation of a few hundred people in search of better or at least safer lives, into a concocted cocoon of insidious terrorists. Call out the National Guard!!
Is this just the terror of the confessed germaphobe who for years wouldn’t even shake a stranger’s hand blown up to international and military proportions?
Or is it just the manipulation of a President seeking the consolidation of White House power that usually follows invocation of the use of national force?
Or worst of all, is it a calculated invitation to an expression of anti-American violence that would not only justify presence of the Guard troops, but justify some kind of violent American response?
Don’t forget that Binyamin Netanyahu, who authorized Israel’s recent military-scale response to a few Gazans engaging in penny-ante violence, and Donald Trump, our President says, “are on the same wave-length.”
Part of that shared wavelength was generated by both men’s fathers, who proclaimed loudly and often their hatred of immigrants. It’s a paternal legacy both Trump and Netanyahu are trying to pass on to their people.
Canada, on the other hand, loves immigrants, who now make up roughly 22% of the national population – the true nation of immigrants. It’s a good thing for Canada that it has such an inclusive culture, because, frankly, Canada needs immigrants even more than it likes them.
Economic growth in Canada long ago surpassed the birth rate and so outsiders were needed to fill critical and ordinary jobs, and the low birth rate created an aging population that without imported tax-payers would have overwhelmed the social safety net that is part of Canada’s national identity.
So Canada, in addition to opening its doors to immigrants, created a support system that helped them to succeed. And, boy, have they. The heart of Canada’s immigrant absorption program is public education, and here’s one taken of its success. According to government statistics 36 per cent of the children of Canadian immigrants aged 25 to 35 hold university degrees, compared to 24 per cent of their same age-group with Canadian-born parents.
Makes this American want to ask, how do the Canadians do it?
Kavitha Cardoza is a correspondent for Education Week, reporting on education issues from pre-K through higher education for PBS NewsHour and edweek.org.