A Nation's Tolerance for Immigrants Crossing from the South

Article excerpt

Byline: Burt Constable

It's safe to assume these immigrants come north across the border in search of a better, or at least easier, life. They bring their culture, music and food with them. And their language, of course.

Yet, their new nation willingly tolerates their intrusion - except for those immigrants who dabble in illegal drugs, commit other crimes and run afoul of the authorities. Those immigrants can get booted back to their former lives in the good, old U.S. of A.

"The United States was the top country for removals," notes Danielle Sarazin, the oh-so-polite-in-three-languages spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the government agency that oversees immigration in Canada. "Mexico was second."

In 1999, Canada deported 824 U.S. citizens. In 2000, the American deportation problem grew even worse. The number of U.S. citizens deemed legally unfit to remain in Canada rose to 864, a 4.9 percent increase.

That Americans are Canada's most-deported nationality is telling, given that there aren't all that many of us up there. According to the 1996 census by Statistics Canada, the 244,695 immigrants from the United States make up only 4.9 percent of Canada's immigrant population.

Clearly, we are the bad boys on Canada's guest list. But they remain nice to us. Last year, they let in 8,377 American students (up from 7,712 in 1999) and increased the number of work permits granted to Yankees from 48,623 to 53,399. We are one of the nationalities Canada allows to enter without a visa.

When it comes to granting immigrant status to Americans, Canadians are more liberal with us than we are with them. According to the Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force, located in New York City, Canada granted immigration last year to 700 partners of gay people living in Canada.

Canadians bestow all this good will on us in spite of our "most likely to earn deportation" status. Is there no vocal opposition to American immigrants, no call to tighten up the world's longest unguarded border, no immigration disputes at all? …