Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Political 'Refugees' from Trump Presidency Possible If Rhetoric Real: Observers

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Political 'Refugees' from Trump Presidency Possible If Rhetoric Real: Observers

Article excerpt

Political refugees a possibility:observers


HALIFAX - A Donald Trump presidency could prompt a flow of politically motivated American emigrants akin to the Vietnam war era, though passionate first impulses to leave may cool as the new leader's agenda unfolds, say political observers and immigration experts.

Donald Savoie -- a Canadian political economist who was at his second home in Florida as the vote occurred -- says some U.S. citizens may consider applying to move to Canada if Trump follows through on proposed policies such as mass deportations of illegal immigrants or the reopening of international trade agreements.

"There's no question some Americans will say we can't live under these circumstances and we may see what we saw in the ... late 60s during the Vietnam war," he said in a telephone interview from Florida.

"I wouldn't take that to the bank right away ... But if he does what he says he wants to do there's no question there will be a bit of chaos and some Americans will say, 'we want out of here.'"

Savoie is a political economist at the University of Moncton who has authored one book on Canada's democracy, is working on a separate book that looks at the democratic system in both nations, and has observed multiple U.S. elections from his southern home.

In Nova Scotia, a radio announcer who created the "Cape Breton if Donald Trump Wins" website says he had about 150 emails late last night as the U.S. election results came in, including some from Americans who say they feel fearful about continuing to live in the United States.

"People are afraid and it's hard to treat it light heartedly when people are feeling so afraid," Rob Calabrese said in a telephone interview.

Calabrese says he will rename his site and expects he'll continue referring inquiries to official websites where would-be Cape Bretoners can pursue work opportunities and apply for immigration status.

Several emails he read out loud were from Americans saying they no longer felt comfortable in states dominated by Republican politicians.

However, the process of trying to gain permanent residency in Canada is a tough one for Americans fleeing because of political unease, say immigration lawyers.

Lee Cohen, who specializes in refugee law in Halifax, said Americans shouldn't be deluded into believing that gaining residency status in Canada is easy just because of the two countries' good relations, proximity and similar lifestyles.

"It's a big deal and it's a very onerous process," he said. "This notion that's floating around there that all Americans have to do is drive to Canada and buy a farm and live there is just completely wrong and misdirected."

He said the application and assessment process can drag on for years, be costly and involve various documents, including birth and police certificates, medical records, passports and possibly interviews. He said it's likely anyone fleeing Trump's America would apply under an economic category, but might have to have a job offer, have Canadian work experience or a skilled trade.

He received a handful of inquiries from anxious Americans over the course of the campaign, with most coming from people in Arizona upset by Trump's pledge to build a wall between the States and Mexico to stem the flow of illegal immigrants. …

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